Support our Nation today - please donate here

Israeli forces ‘bombard Gaza refugee camps’ as expanded ground offensive looms

26 Dec 2023 5 minute read
Gaza. Photo PA/Wire

Israeli forces have bombarded Palestinian refugee camps in central Gaza, residents said, in apparent preparation to expand their ground offensive into a third section of the besieged territory.

Gaza’s main telecom provider, Paltel, announced another “complete interruption” of services.

Residents described a night of shelling and air strikes shaking the Nuseirat, Maghazi and Bureij camps.

The camps are built-up towns housing Palestinians driven from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war and their descendants – and now also crowded with people who have fled from the north.

“The bombing was very intense,” Radwan Abu Sheitta, a Palestinian teacher said by phone from his home in Bureij. “It seems they are approaching,” he added of the Israeli troops.

‘Safe zone’

A strike on Tuesday hit the home of the a family in Mawasi, a rural area on Gaza’s southern coastline which Israel has declared a safe zone for people to take shelter.

One woman was killed, and at least eight other people were wounded, according to a cameraman working for the Associated Press at the nearby hospital.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Israeli military issued an order for residents to evacuate a belt of territory the width of central Gaza, including Bureij, urging them to move to the nearby town of Deir al-Balah.

The Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military arm, said its fighters struck an Israeli tank east of Bureij. Its report could not be independently confirmed, but it suggested Israeli forces were moving towards the camp.

Warplanes and artillery also hammered areas east of Nuseirat camp.

Israel has vowed to crush Hamas after its October 7 attack on southern Israel, and Israeli forces have been engaged in heavy urban fighting in northern Gaza and the southern city of Khan Younis, driving Palestinians into ever smaller corners of territory in search of refuge.


Despite international pressure for a ceasefire and US calls for a reduction in civilian casualties, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned that the fight “isn’t close to finished”.

More than 20,900 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, have been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants among the dead.

On Tuesday it said 240 people had been killed over the past 24 hours.

“We are gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces, which has claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives since Christmas Eve,” the UN human rights office said, adding that Israel had ordered some residents to move to central Gaza.

In response to what it has long considered disproportionate criticism from the UN, Israel said it would no longer grant automatic visas to UN employees and accused it of being “complicit partners” in Hamas’ tactics.

Government spokesman Eylon Levy said that Israel would consider visa requests case by case. That could further limit aid efforts in Gaza.


Meanwhile, there were new signs of the Israel-Hamas war enflaming tensions around the region, including an Israeli air strike in Syria which killed an Iranian general, bringing vows of revenge from Tehran.

The Israeli strike hit a neighbourhood of the capital Damascus, killing General Seyed Razi Mousavi, an adviser of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Syria.

The strike hit as he was entering a farm reportedly used as an office of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the district of Sayeda Zeinab on Damascus’s outskirts, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Elsewhere, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq carried out a drone strike on a US base in Irbil in northern Iraq on Monday, wounding three American troops, one of them critically, according to US officials.

In response, American planes hit three locations in Iraq connected to one of the main militias, Kataib Hezbollah.

Throughout the war, Iranian-backed militia groups around the region have stepped up attacks in support of Hamas. So far, all sides have appeared to calibrate the violence to stay short of sparking an all-out conflict, but the fear is that an unexpected escalation could spiral out of control.

Hezbollah and Israel exchange missile volleys, air strikes and shelling across the Israeli-Lebanese border almost daily, and Iran-backed militias in Iraq have launched more than 100 attacks on bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria.


In the Red Sea, attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen against commercial ships have disrupted trade and prompted a US-led multinational naval operation to protect shipping routes.

Israeli troops have been engaged in nearly two months of ground combat with Hamas and other militants in northern Gaza and weeks of urban fighting in Khan Younis. The battles and bombardment have levelled large areas, and strikes have continued across the territory.

The Israeli military announced the deaths of two more soldiers on Tuesday, bringing the total killed in the ground offensive to 158.

Militants launched a barrage of rockets into Israel late on Monday, triggering air raid sirens in the southern city of Ashkelon. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Israel has vowed to continue fighting to eliminate Hamas’s military and governing capabilities in Gaza, after the militants carried out their shock attack into southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 240 hostage.

Israel says it also aims to free more than 100 hostages who remain in captivity in Gaza.

Israel faces international criticism for the civilian death toll, but it blames Hamas, citing the militants’ use of crowded residential areas and tunnels. Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas militants.

In Khan Younis, the Palestinian Red Crescent said on Tuesday morning that its medics had found several dead and wounded after a house in the al-Amal neighbourhood was bombed overnight.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.