Israel 'prepared to fight for months' against Hamas as UN to hold emergency meeting

Israeli troops are encircling Hamas’ last two strongholds - Jabalya and Shejaiya - in northern Gaza, said the IDF

  • Fighting in Gaza could last well into 2024 Israel has said, while a spokesperson for Hamas' Al Qassem Brigades wing has warned Israeli leaders that 'what is coming is worse and greater'.

  • The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has scheduled an emergency meeting on Tuesday to vote on a draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

  • More than 18,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza - around two-thirds of whom are thought to be women and children - according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

  • At least 1,200 people died in southern Israel, after Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups launched attacks into southern parts of the country on October 7.

Israel says fighting in Gaza could stretch well into the new year after it vowed to defeat Hamas, while a spokesperson for the proscribed terror group said there would be further attacks against Israeli civilians.

Hamas will not agree to further hostage-for-prisoner exchanges until Israel ends its ground operation and there is a “comprehensive ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip, Hamas Political Bureau Deputy Chairman Saleh al Arouri said, as reported by the Institute for the Study of War.

“What is coming is worse and greater,” Abu Obeida, spokesperson for the Al Qassem Brigades wing of Hamas, said, referring to a shooting attack by Hamas at a Jerusalem bus stop in November.

The comments come after fighting resumed on December 1, following a seven-day truce for hostage and detainee exchanges.

Qatar, which mediated the recent pause to allow for the safe swapping of Palestinian prisoners and Israeli hostages, said efforts to stop the war will continue, but chances of a ceasefire are waning.

Israeli troops are encircling Hamas’s last two strongholds - Jabalya and Shejaiya - in northern Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said. 

Hospitals in the north remain under siege, according to doctors who have described tanks spreading through the camps.

In the south of the enclave, there have been reports of heavy airstrikes around the European Hospital, where the UN humanitarian office says tens of thousands of people have sought shelter. 

Second aid screening point opened between Israel and Egypt

It comes as Israeli authorities confirmed it will open a second crossing point to help screen humanitarian aid being transported into the territory. 

"Following a security consultation, a decision was made today (Monday), to conduct integrated security screening at the Nitzana Crossing and the Kerem Shalom Crossing," Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said.

Palestinians loot a truck with humanitarian aid near the Rafah border crossing Credit: AP

The Kerem Shalom crossing will open from Tuesday for security checks on aid deliveries from El-Arish, the Egyptian town where much of the aid for Gaza is assembled, COGAT spokesperson Shan Sasson said in a video statement released on the social media platform X.

“The simultaneous security checks at Kerem Shalom and Nitzana crossings will double the volume of aid delivered through the Rafah crossing and admitted into the Gaza Strip,” Sasson said.

Palestinian death toll rises to over 18,000, health ministry says

Israel's military offensive has killed more than 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza, around two-thirds of whom are thought to be women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Israel says about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed while around 240 were taken as hostages, after Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups raided southern parts of the country on October 7.

Around 90% of the 2.3 million people in Gaza have been displaced within the region, where there is no safe place to flee, United Nations (UN) agencies have said.

Palestinians look for survivors after a building in Khan Younis was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. Credit: AP

UN General Assembly to vote on immediate ceasefire

The UN General Assembly has now scheduled an emergency meeting on Tuesday to vote on a draft resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Assembly President Dennis Francis sent a letter to the 193 UN member states on Sunday, saying the meeting had been requested by the Arab Group - made up of 22 countries - and the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The draft resolution is similar to the Security Council resolution the United States vetoed on Friday, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, told The Associated Press.

The US vetoed the plan put forward by the UN on Friday, despite the fact that most other members of the security council and dozens of other nations backed it.

The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1, with the United Kingdom opting to abstain.

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Arab diplomats made direct appeals for US President Joe Biden’s administration to drop its opposition, but the America criticised the vote for failing to condemn Hamas’ bloodshed in Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the US is responsible for the "bloodshed" of civilians in the Gaza Strip, in response to the vote.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has defended selling nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel.

Mr Blinken also called for quick congressional approval of more than $100 billion (£80 billion) in aid for Israel and Ukraine, as well as other situations considered national security priorities.