No let-ups in airstrikes by Israel in Gaza Strip as Christmas dawn

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Israel pounded Gaza on Monday, exacerbating  the already dire conditions for civilians with no sight of end to the war. Gaza’s health ministry, which has been controlled by Hamas, has said that more than 20,000 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory.

The health ministry said an Israeli air strike killed at least 70 people on Christmas Eve at the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, the AFP news agency reported. According to the Associated Press, Gaza officials has shared that more than 100 were killed in several airstrikes. Neither figures could have been verified.

As the Christmas was being celebrated in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, there remained only a handful of worshippers and tourists and people has moved away in the wake of conflict.

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Pope Francis marked Christmas with a call for peace, urging the release of hostages and an end to the war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday the war was exacting a “very heavy price,” as the death of the soldiers continue to mount. He added that they are still left with no option but to fight and said, “This will be a long war.”