People clean up the rubble after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, Dec. 24, 2023. At least 166 Palestinians were killed and 384 others were wounded during the past 24 hours by the ongoing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, said the Gaza-based Health Ministry on Sunday. (Photo by Yasser Qudih/Xinhua)
Christmas Day bloodshed in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of at least 70 people, marking one of the deadliest nights in the ongoing battle between Israel and Palestine. Chinese experts believe the Netanyahu government's determination to extend its "aggressive" military actions in the Gaza Strip will only widen the existing gap between the parties, and hopes for agreeing on a new plan proposed by Egypt are slim.
Airstrikes that began before midnight continued into Christmas Day. Reports from residents and Palestinian media indicate that Israel intensified its aerial and ground attacks in central Gaza, according to Reuters.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian health ministry, stated that at least 70 people, including women and children, were killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting Maghazi in central Gaza.
On the same day, Egypt issued a three-stage truce proposal, which seeks to a short-term truce, release more hostages and eventually achieve the goal of a comprehensive cease-fire.
Some sources suggest that Israel is not outright refusing the draft and that it may result in potential negotiations, according to The Times of Israel.
Zhu Yongbiao, the director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at Lanzhou University, said that Israel is pursuing a goal that it is well aware it cannot accomplish. The ongoing military actions in Gaza appear to be a desperate attempt by Israel to save face and avoid embarrassment.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restated his long-held belief on Sunday that the Gaza offensive will not cease until Hamas is eradicated. At the same time, Netanyahu also acknowledged the significant loss of life among his soldiers, with 153 casualties since the ground offensive began.
The Christmas bloodshed shows Netanyahu is hell-bent on having his own way, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times.
The current peace deal proposed by Egypt offers hopes for a possible short-term cease-fire, but big challenges remain due to stark differences between Palestine and Israel, with latter's pursuit of its goal through aggression only further widening the existing gap between the two parties.
Experts said Israel is facing multiple fronts at this juncture of the conflict. In one sense, it is trying to manage how to handle arrangements in Gaza in the so-called post-Hamas era. As its military actions have moved to the south of Gaza after the Israeli army completed its carpet bombing on the northern part, the war should be coming to an end soon, although it will continue for some time in the future, Liu said. In another sense, ongoing military action in Gaza serves to extend the political career of Netanyahu, who has been facing huge pressure over political restructuring, the expert added.
After several days of delays, the United Nations Security Council finally passed a resolution for increased aid to Gaza on Friday. The resolution, with 13 votes in favor, none against, and the US and Russia abstaining, merely called for steps "to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities."
But this resolution has sparked huge criticism, with some labeling it as "woefully inadequate" and "almost meaningless," media outlet Al Jazeera reported on Saturday.
Answering a question related to the resolution, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Monday that due to well-known reasons, this resolution did not meet the expectations of the international community and there is still room for improvement. However, considering the current urgent situation and the positions of Arab countries such as Palestine, China voted in favor.
Mao said China hopes the UN resolution will be effectively implemented, humanitarian assistance will be expanded as soon as possible, and a monitoring mechanism will be established. The spokesperson also emphasized that achieving a cease-fire remains the overriding prerequisite.
Liu also believes that a cease-fire is crucial for Gaza, given the huge causalities that the conflict has caused. But due to the fact that Israel has been receiving continuous support from the US, it intends to exploit the military actions in south Gaza to try to gain more advantages for itself in its diplomatic and political maneuvers, Liu noted.
Zhu also said that as major countries continue to make efforts in this process, including regional countries, reaching an agreement on Egypt's new truce plan is not impossible, but chances of success are slim.
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