No break in the fighting between Israel and Hamas for the transition to the year 2024. The Israeli army continued its intensive shelling of Palestinian territory, killing at least twenty-four people overnight, while Hamas fired rockets on Tel Aviv and southern Israel at the exact time of the New Year.

Air warning sirens sounded in several parts of Israel, and journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Tel Aviv witnessed rockets being intercepted by Israeli missile defense systems at midnight precise. People celebrating the New Year on a festive street ran for cover while others continued to party.

The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, which rules Gaza, claimed responsibility for both attacks in a video posted on their social media, saying they fired M90 rockets in “response to the massacres of civilians” perpetrated by Israel. The Israeli army confirmed the attack, without initially reporting any casualties or damage.

New Year’s celebrations were more subdued than usual in Israel, even in Tel Aviv, the holiday capital, nearly three months after the Hamas attack on Israeli territory on October 7 that sparked the war, and while many hostages are still prisoners in the Gaza Strip.

In the Gaza Strip, under siege and in a desperate humanitarian situation for the Palestinians, the bombings continue unabated. The war will continue for “many months,” warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Twenty-four civilians killed in the night

According to the Ministry of Health in the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip, twenty-four civilians were killed and several dozen others injured on New Year’s Eve by Israeli strikes. Air raids targeted the center of Khan Yunis and at least seven other towns in the Gaza Strip, he said.

The day before, at least forty-eight Palestinians were killed in strikes on Gaza City, and another strike on the campus of Al-Aqsa University in Gaza left at least twenty dead, according to the same source.

“After the explosion, we arrived at the scene and we saw martyrs everywhere,” testified Mohamed Btihan, a resident of Gaza, after the bombings overnight from Saturday to Sunday.

The Israeli army said it had killed more than a dozen enemy fighters in ground clashes, airstrikes and tank fire, adding that it had located Hamas tunnels and explosives at a kindergarten.

“The year 2023 was the worst of my life,” Ahmed Al-Baz, 33, who had to leave his home in Gaza City for a makeshift camp in Rafah, in the south, told AFP. territory. “We experienced a tragedy that even our grandparents didn’t experience,” he continues. “We have been through hell and been around death itself. »

International mediation

The Hamas attack on October 7 left around 1,140 people dead in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli data. In response, Israel has vowed to “destroy” the Palestinian movement, and is relentlessly shelling the Gaza Strip where 129 people out of the approximately 250 kidnapped on October 7 in Israel are still being held hostage.

According to a report announced Sunday by the Ministry of Health of the Gaza Strip administered by Hamas, 21,822 people, mostly women, adolescents and children, have been killed in the small, overpopulated Palestinian territory since the start of the war. war, and 56,451 injured.

In recent weeks, the Israeli army has deployed in the north of the Gaza Strip, then towards Khan Younes (south) and recently in the camps in the center of this territory where 1.9 million inhabitants (85% of population) had to flee their homes due to the fighting. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of the growing threat of the spread of infectious diseases and the UN has warned of famine.

International mediators, led by Qatar and Egypt, are continuing their efforts to bring about a new pause in the fighting. A Hamas delegation visited Cairo on Friday to convey “the response of the Palestinian factions” to an Egyptian plan providing for the release of hostages and a pause in hostilities. This response will be given “in the coming days,” said Muhammad Al-Hindi, deputy secretary general of Islamic Jihad, an armed group fighting alongside Hamas, in a statement.