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Gaza war rages on 100th day

The Israel-Hamas war reached a grim milestone of 100 days on Sunday, with more civilian deaths in Gaza, and relatives of dozens of hostages still awaiting their freedom.

There were also casualties in the West Bank, and on the Israel-Lebanon border.

The conflict, sparked by unprecedented attacks on Israel, has created a humanitarian catastrophe for the 2.4 million people in Hamas-ruled Gaza, the United Nations and aid groups warn, and reduced much of the coastal strip to rubble.

The UN says roughly 85 percent of the territory’s population have been displaced — crowded into shelters and struggling to get food, water, fuel and medical care.

“It’s been 100 days and our situation is very bad,” said Mohammad Kahil, displaced to Rafah, in southern Gaza near Egypt, from the territory’s north.

“There’s no food, no water, no heating. We are dying from the cold.”

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said diseases were spreading with “the clock ticking fast towards famine”.

Violence involving Iran-aligned groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria has surged since the war in Gaza began in early October.

While a wider conflagration has so far been averted, fears increased following US and British strikes on scores of Yemeni rebel targets Friday.

Undeterred, the Huthis have vowed more attacks in solidarity with Gaza against what they deem Israeli-linked Red Sea shipping.

The Hamas government media office said Sunday that “more than 100 people were martyred in the attacks last night until 6:00 am in all areas of the Gaza Strip”.

Among those killed was Yazan al-Zwaidi, a video-journalist for Cairo-based Al Ghad television, “murdered by Israeli fire”, the station said on X, formerly Twitter.

– More civilians killed –

At central Gaza’s Al-Aqsa hospital, the bodies arrived piled on a donkey cart after Israeli strikes that Hisham Abu Suweh said killed one of his children.

As civilians, Suweh said his family had thought they would be safe.

“We’re shocked by what happened,” he said outside the emergency ward where his wife was being treated. “We were sitting peacefully when the missile hit us.”

Fewer than half of Gaza’s hospitals are even partly functioning, the World Health Organization says.

The war began when Gaza-based Hamas attacked on October 7, resulting in about 1,140 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Iran-backed Hamas is considered a “terrorist” group by the United States and the European Union.

The militants also seized about 250 hostages, 132 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a relentless military campaign that has killed at least 23,968 people in the Palestinian territory, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

On the Israel-Lebanon border, which has seen regular exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Hamas ally Hezbollah, the Israeli army said it killed three gunmen who had crossed the frontier and “fired at the forces”.

The army said warplanes also hit Hezbollah positions after a missile strike on a house in an Israeli border community. The missile killed a woman and her son, local authorities said.

– PM under pressure –

“What has the enemy achieved in 100 days, other than killing?” asked Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech.

Israel’s military has said its forces have dismantled the Hamas command structure in Gaza’s north.

On Sunday the military said it had struck rocket launching pits in Gaza’s north and hit targets across the strip, including the main southern city of Khan Yunis.

Hamas’s military wing reported clashes with Israeli forces in the city.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a government budget meeting on Sunday that additional security expenditures were needed.

“We must conduct this war, and it will yet take many months,” he said.

Netanyahu is under intense domestic pressure to account for political and security failings surrounding the initial attack, and to bring the hostages home. He is also on trial for corruption charges, which he denies.

– Hostages ‘in tunnels, in basements’ –

On a cold and rainy Sunday in Tel Aviv, Israelis danced, sang and prayed at a series of events to mark the 100 days of captivity for the Gaza hostages.

“I don’t think we imagined a situation where we would be here on the 100th day,” said Gili Dvash Yeshurun, who attended the commemoration.

Israel’s trade union federation, the Histadrut, said hundreds of thousands of workers joined a 100-minute strike.

US President Joe Biden also acknowledged “a devastating and tragic milestone” for the hostages.

“No one should have to endure even one day of what they have gone through, much less 100,” he said, adding the United States would “never stop working to bring Americans home”.

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, said many of the hostages are likely to have been killed recently.

“The enemy’s leadership and army bear full responsibility,” he said in a televised statement.

Hamas on Sunday also released video footage it claimed showed three hostages alive in its custody in Gaza.

In the video, one woman and two men appear talking in Hebrew calling on the Israeli authorities to act for their return home. It was unclear when the footage was filmed.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant vowed earlier Sunday: “We will not let the world forget. We will not leave them behind.”

In the occupied West Bank, where violence has surged since early October, Israeli forces killed five Palestinians including two shot dead when their car broke through a checkpoint, sources on both sides said.

Troops also detained two sisters of Saleh al-Aruri, Hamas’s deputy leader killed in a strike in Beirut this month, Palestinian sources and the Israeli army said.

A US defence official has said Israel carried out that strike, which stoked fears of a wider war.

In Egypt, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the establishment of a Palestinian state and a ceasefire in Gaza.


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