‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 49: Four-day truce begins in Gaza after a night of heavy bombardment

Casualties

14,854 killed*, including 6,150 children, and more than 36,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip

226 Palestinians* killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem

Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,200

*This figure covers the casualties from October 7 to November 23. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza), the Gaza Ministry of Health has not been able to update its tolls regularly. The Government Media Office in Gaza has since become the main source for tolls in the enclave. Tolls have also not been regularly updated in the occupied West Bank.

Key Developments

  • Friday marks first in four-day pause in fighting in Gaza mediated by Qatar, allowing entry of meager amounts of aid.
  • First prisoner swap due to take place on Friday afternoon, 13 Israeli women and children held hostage since October 7 in exchange for 39 Palestinian women and children imprisoned by Israel.
  • Israeli forces shoot at Palestinians attempting to return home to northern Gaza despite ceasefire, reportedly killing two people.
  • Humanitarian agencies call for full-fledged ceasefire and unlimited entrance of aid into Gaza, Israeli government vows to continue bombardment after pause is over.
  • Israel pummels Gaza Strip overnight ahead of truce, attacking Indonesian hospital and UNRWA school in Jabalia.
  • Two Palestinian journalists killed on Thursday, Reporters Without Borders accuses Israel of “eradicating journalism” in Gaza.
  • Israeli forces kill several Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including 12-year-old boy.
  • Israeli communications minister threatens Haaretz newspaper with financial penalties for its coverage of the current war, calling it “lying, defeatist propaganda.”
  • Israel’s agriculture reels from government’s decision to rescind permits to Palestinian workers and departure of thousands of foreign workers due to conflict.
  • Newly minted UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs David Cameron pledges $37.38 million of additional humanitarian aid to Gaza.
  • Pro-Palestine protesters disrupt famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Thursday, gluing hands to street in middle of parade route.
  • Activists online urge people everywhere to boycott Black Friday sales of major brands.
  • Thousands in Cuba, including President Miguel Diaz-Canel, march for Palestine.

Humanitarian pause begins, but little hope it will be extended

A planned four-day temporary ceasefire mediated by Qatar began at 7 a.m. on Friday in the Gaza Strip after 48 days of relentless bombardment and fighting.

A first batch of hostages is expected to be released by Hamas and Israel on Friday afternoon, as part of a prisoner exchange deal that is set to see the exchange of 50 Israelis held by Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza since October 7 with 150 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli prisons.

At 4 p.m. local time, 13 Israeli women and children are scheduled to be taken to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, then flown back to Israel via helicopter, while 34 women and girls and 15 teenage boys — 39 Palestinians in total from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem — will be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross at Ofer military jail, an Israeli prison located in the West Bank, before being taken to either Jerusalem or Betunia in the West Bank depending on where they are from, Al Jazeera reported. More people are expected to be released in the following three days and beyond, depending on how the truce holds.

According to the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, at least 200 Palestinian children were held in Israeli prisons as of early November — a number that may have gone up given the rise in Israeli detention raids in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the onslaught more than a month and a half ago. Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) has meanwhile noted that “Israeli forces detain, interrogate, prosecute, and imprison 500-700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12-17 each year” under its military court and prison system.

The identities of both the Palestinians and Israelis set to be released on Friday have yet to be publicly confirmed. While the release of a handful of the more than 7,000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel may be seen as a positive development, it is worth noting that Israel has regularly re-imprisoned Palestinians who had been released under the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal.

On the first day of the truce, the Israeli army has forbidden Palestinians from heading back to their homes in northern Gaza, which has been the scene of intense fighting on the ground for weeks. Several Palestinians were shot by Israeli soldiers on Friday while attempting to cross back into central Gaza after the ceasefire went into effect, with initial reports of at least two killed.

Some aid has begun to enter the southern Gaza Strip, with 200 trucks of food, water, medical supplies, and limited amounts of fuel set to enter the devastated Palestinian enclave each day during the duration of the truce. While the entry of desperately needed aid into Gaza was welcomed by humanitarian agencies and NGOs, they noted that this was still far less than the 500 trucks that were allowed into Gaza daily before October 7.

“As we all anticipate the beginning of the much-awaited pause, I reiterate my call for a long-standing humanitarian ceasefire,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said on Thursday following his second visit to Gaza since the onslaught began. “People are exhausted and are losing hope in humanity. They need respite, they deserve to sleep without being anxious about whether they will make it through the night. This is the bare minimum anyone should be able to have.”

Oxfam, meanwhile, noted that the collapse of the healthcare system in Gaza means the temporary truce “is too short and fragile to make any meaningful difference given the scale of need and destruction” and called for a “full ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access.”

“Amongst the horror and carnage in Gaza, we are now at the abhorrent stage of babies dying because of diarrhea and hypothermia,” Oxfam’s Middle East Regional Director  Sally Abi Khalil said on Thursday. “It is shattering that newborns are coming into the world and due to the apocalyptic conditions, stand little chance of survival.”

The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has meanwhile called on international human rights groups to take advantage of the truce to send fact-finding committees to “document the magnitude of Israel’s crimes against Palestinian civilians” in Gaza and “ascertain the rapidly worsening humanitarian situation with their own eyes.”

Despite international calls for a permanent end to the violence in Gaza, Israel has insisted that the truce, much criticized by the most extremist elements of the far-right government, would not spell the end of the war. 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday that Tel Aviv’s military campaign would resume “with intensity” for at least two more months, the Times of Israel reported. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he had “already instructed” the Mossad spy agency to target Hamas leaders “wherever they are” — a thinly veiled threat of military operations in places like Qatar, where Hamas political bureau chairman Ismail Haniyeh is based.

Yet the blustering rhetoric of Israel’s war cabinet has failed to convince the country’s right wing, which sees anything less than the total annihilation of Hamas (and Gaza’s civilian population with it) as abdication.

Jonathan Pollard, who was imprisoned by the U.S. for 30 years for spying on Washington on behalf of Israel, was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as calling the temporary ceasefire and hostage release deal a “monstrous blunder” and argued that the families of Israeli hostages, many of whom have been publicly critical of Netanyahu’s actions for putting their loved ones at risk, should have been told to “keep your mouths shut or we will shut them for you” and thrown into prison.

Violent bombing across Gaza before ceasefire

As if spurred by the deadline of the beginning of the temporary truce on Friday morning, Israel ramped up its bombardment of Gaza on Thursday and early Friday, to devastating effect.

Israeli forces continued to target the Indonesian hospital in Beit Lahia for the fourth day of siege, destroying its remaining power generators and shelling entrances to the medical facility. Soldiers then stormed the hospital, killing one woman, wounding at least three other people, and detaining six. After its unconvincing theory that Al-Shifa’ Hospital was a cover for Hamas’s main command center in Gaza, Israeli forces have reiterated similar claims regarding the Indonesian hospital, putting the lives of hundreds of patients, medical staff, and civilians seeking refuge at risk.

Deadly airstrikes meanwhile pummelled Nuseirat refugee camp, Jabalia, al-Bureij refugee camp, and the Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan, hitting schools and homes in the northern and central Gaza Strip, which have seen the worst of the violence.

In a daily reminder that the southern Gaza Strip is not safe despite Israeli propaganda, Israeli strikes hit homes in Khan Younis and Rafah and mosques in Khuza’a, killing at least 11 people, including children.

At least two Palestinian journalists were killed on Thursday, identified as Amal Zahd and Muhammad Ayyash — as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accused Israel on Wednesday of turning Gaza into a “cemetery for journalists” and subjecting the Palestinian territory to “a veritable eradication of journalism.”

Palestinian boy killed in the West Bank

Israeli forces have killed at least three Palestinians, including a child, since Thursday in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Muhammad Ibrahim Edeli, 12, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Thursday night in the northern West Bank town of Beita, WAFA news agency reported. Meanwhile, Khaled al-Sayyeh Ulawn, 46, was killed in the village of Burqa, while 22-year-old Muhammad Hinawi, who was identified as a fighter in a local resistance brigade, was shot dead in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho.

Initial reports emerged on Friday afternoon that a Palestinian was run over and killed by an Israeli settler in the Hebron-area village of Yatta.

Amer Nizar Khairallah, 27, succumbed on Friday to wounds sustained earlier this month when an Israeli drone bombed Tulkarem. Israeli forces have killed 43 Palestinians in Tulkarem alone since October 7.

DCIP had earlier reported that Israeli forces shot and killed 14-year-old Motaz Anas Subhi Mansour on Wednesday in the northern West Bank village of Burin. 

At least 13 Palestinians were detained in the West Bank, including six men from Gaza whose Israeli work permits were revoked in the wake of the October 7 attack, and who, like many others, had fled to the West Bank fearing Israeli reprisals. At least 3,000 Gazan workers have been imprisoned since early October and subjected to torture and abuse.

Israeli forces also staged raids in Nablus and Rummanah, where they demolished a home. In Tuqu’, Israeli forces shot and injured at least three Palestinians on Friday.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers raided lands in the sensitive area of Masafer Yatta south of Hebron, damaging trees and agricultural structures. Elsewhere in the Hebron governorate, settlers destroyed the Bedouin community of al-Qanoub, which had been vacated by its inhabitants earlier this month following threats of settler violence.

In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces once again fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian worshippers seeking to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Further north, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement claimed it had shelled dozens of areas in northern Israel ahead of the truce, but the group said it would respect the temporary pause in fighting “provided that Israel does not strike South Lebanon.” According to Lebanese newspaper L’Orient Today, at least 86 Hezbollah fighters have been killed by Israel since October 8, including the son of the parliamentary leader of Hezbollah. At least 14 civilians, including three journalists, have been killed during the same time frame.

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