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War Resumed Between Israel and Hamas After Cease-fire Ends

After a week of uneasy peace, Israel and Hamas officially resumed hostilities, marking the end of a temporary cease-fire. The breakdown occurred as the truce approached its expiration, with Israel accusing Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by both the United States and Israel, of violating the terms.

Airstrikes and Civilian Casualties

As rocket warning sirens echoed across southern and northern Israel, Israeli warplanes targeted Gaza, resulting in a tragic toll. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported at least 109 fatalities, raising concerns about civilian casualties. This included 105 hostages released during the cease-fire, while an estimated 137 were believed to remain captive in Gaza.

International Response and Failed Cease-fire Extension

The international community expressed deep regret over the renewed hostilities. Qatar, where cease-fire terms were initially negotiated, conveyed its disappointment, stating that negotiations between the two sides were ongoing with the hope of restoring a pause in the conflict. Despite attempts by Hamas to extend the cease-fire for a third time through overnight talks and proposals, the efforts proved unsuccessful.

Humanitarian Crisis and Urgent Aid Needs

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRC) highlighted the dire situation, stating that resuming hostilities had returned Gaza’s approximately 2.3 million residents to a nightmarish predicament. The IRC, instrumental in facilitating hostage and prisoner releases during the cease-fire, emphasized the critical need for humanitarian aid. Unfortunately, truck convoys carrying essential supplies were halted at the Rafah border crossing, aggravating an already precarious situation.

Impact on Civilians and International Concerns

The resumption of conflict drew a strong reaction from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who expressed deep regret and emphasized the importance of renewing the pause established earlier. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk called the return of hostilities “catastrophic” and urged all parties and states with influence to redouble efforts for an immediate cease-fire based on humanitarian and human rights grounds.

Violent Incidents Straining Cease-fire Agreement

Numerous violent incidents this week strained the already fragile cease-fire. An alarming event unfolded early Thursday when two gunmen opened fire on a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem, resulting in at least three Israeli deaths and six injuries. Hamas claimed responsibility for the assault, citing retaliation for the deaths of children in the Jenin refugee camp.

Cease-fire History and Continued Tensions

Initiated on November 24, the cease-fire witnessed two extensions, during which 240 Palestinian prisoners and five hostages were released. The final day of the cease-fire saw the release of 30 Palestinians from Israeli prisons and eight Israeli hostages from Gaza. However, tensions persisted, illustrated by the ongoing captivity of Aisha and Bilal Ziyadne’s father and elder brother by Hamas.

Individual Stories and Human Impact

Amid the conflict, individual stories emerged, such as the release of Mia Schem, a French-Israeli woman, whose plight was highlighted in a Hamas propaganda video. The toll on civilians, both physically and emotionally, was evident, as shared by Karen Schem, Mia’s mother, expressing the difficulty of witnessing her daughter’s pain.

Human Cost of Conflict

The Israeli military claimed that during Hamas militants’ rampage on October 7, over 1,200 people were killed, predominantly civilians. Meanwhile, in Gaza, nearly 15,000 reported deaths resulted from Israeli airstrikes and a retaliatory ground invasion, as per the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The conflict’s devastating toll continues, underscoring the urgent need for a comprehensive and lasting resolution to protect the lives and well-being of those affected.

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