Gaza witnessed its deadliest Christmas Eve as 70 people died in an Israeli airstrike on the Maghazi refugee camp in the central part of the Strip, a Palestinian health ministry official said on Sunday (local time).
On the other hand, the Israeli military said it recovered the bodies of five Israeli hostages killed in captivity from an underground tunnel network of Hamas in northern Gaza. A separate Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza killed another eight people, medics said.
Here are the top developments of the Israel-Hamas war:
The Israeli strikes on Gaza that began on Sunday night continued into Monday morning on Christmas. According to local residents and Palestinian media, Israel intensified its air and ground shelling in al-Bureij in central Gaza.
Palestinian health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra told news agency Reuters that the 70 killed in the Maghazi refugee camp included women and children. Hamas, in a statement, called the airstrike a "horrific massacre" and a "new war crime".
For the first time in many years, Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank city, were subdued amid the war. A candlelight vigil with hymns and prayers for peace was held by Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, where Jesus was believed to be born in a stable 2,000 years ago.
"Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war, by the clash of arms that even today prevents him from finding room in the world," Reuters quoted Pope Francis as saying while presiding at Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) shot footage of the Hamas tunnel network in northern Gaza, where the five hostages were killed in captivity. Footage showed a white-tiled bathroom and a workroom linked by dark concrete-lined passages. Post-mortems of the bodies were to be done and the Israeli military would brief the families of the deaths.
Hamas is still believed to be holding more than 100 hostages since it attacked Israel on October 7. Under a previous ceasefire deal, Hamas freed 105 hostages while Israel has released over 200 Palestinian prisoners.
Meanwhile, talks on a fresh hostage exchange-ceasefire deal saw little progress amid hectic diplomatic parleys by Egypt and Qatar, the countries which helped to broker a previous agreement between Israel and Hamas.
Islamic Jihad, a smaller militant group allied to Hamas, said a delegation led by its exiled Ziad al-Nakhlala reached Cairo on Sunday for talks, Reuters reported. This came after Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh was also in Cairo for talks on the ceasefire in the nearly three-month-long war, which has killed 20,400 Palestinians in Gaza and around 1,200 in Israel.