Mahmoud Abbas calls for an end to the “river of blood” of the Palestinian people in his Christmas message

 The Palestinian president, Mahmud Abbas, called this Sunday for an end to the “river of blood” and the “immense sacrifices” of the Palestinian people in a Christmas greeting message, a celebration that takes on a special meaning. relevance in Bethlehem, where Christian tradition places the birth of Jesus.

“The river of blood, the immense sacrifices, the hardships and the heroic resilience of our people in their land are the path to freedom and dignity,” said the president of the Palestinian Authority, which governs small areas of the occupied West Bank.

Every December 24, Bethlehem – the center of the Palestinian Christian community – celebrates a traditional parade with marching bands, prior to the arrival of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem on foot to officiate a mass in the Church of Saint Catherine, the Catholic basilica of the Nativity.

But this year, Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa – the Vatican’s religious envoy to the Holy Land – will arrive in Bethlehem in a solemn procession, without music or festive events, to mourn the high number of Palestinian deaths in the war in the Gaza Strip. that exceed 20,200 as the Israeli offensive continues.

The occupied West Bank has also seen its deadliest year since 2002, the peak of violence of the Second Intifada, with some 510 dead, more than half since October 7, when the war began in the enclave.

Abbas expressed this Christmas Day his hope that this Christmas will mark the cessation of the Israeli war against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories, wishing “prosperity and stability for the Palestinian people and all nations.”

The Israeli Army has attacked 200 Hamas targets in the last 24 hours

Meanwhile, the Israeli Army reported this Sunday that in the last 24 hours it has attacked more than 200 “terrorist targets” of the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including a weapons warehouse within a civilian complex, in addition to having “eliminated ” to several militiamen.

Israeli security forces – in operations involving both the Army and the Shin Bet, the internal intelligence service – reported that they had detained more than 200 “terrorists”, both from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in the last week. and that these number almost 800 since the start of the war.

“Explosive belts adapted for children, dozens of mortar shells, hundreds of grenades and intelligence documents were found inside the civilian complex, which was located adjacent to schools, a mosque and a medical clinic,” a military spokesman said of that warehouse. of weapons found in an unspecified location in the north of the Palestinian enclave.

The Army noted that during that operation, troops identified “several terrorists” who left a Hamas military compound used, among other things, as an observation center. “The forces conducted an airstrike on the complex and the terrorists were killed,” a military statement indicated.

In another operation in Jabalia, also in the north, aviation and artillery troops killed seven more Hamas militants and destroyed four observation points.

Additionally, in a raid on the Khan Yunis military command center, a Hamas stronghold in the southern Strip, soldiers located numerous weapons, including dozens of grenades and explosives.

One of the deadliest days in the Israeli ranks

Thirteen soldiers died in the Gaza Strip in the last 48 hours, among the deadliest days in the Israeli ranks since the ground offensive began in the enclave, where fighting has intensified in the last week.

In total, 152 Israeli soldiers have died in combat in the enclave since the start of the ground offensive on October 27, surpassing the 119 who died in the 2006 Lebanon war, according to official Army figures.

The bombings and battles have caused more than 20,200 deaths in the Strip – more than 70% civilians, including more than 8,000 children – and 56,000 injuries, the highest number of victims that any other conflict has left in Palestinian territory, according to the Ministry’s count. Gaza Health Ministry, controlled by Hamas.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga