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Israel-Hamas war live updates: Dozens killed as Israel ramps up Gaza strikes on Christmas Day

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Gaza on the brink of a famine, World Food Programme says

Gaza is on the brink of a famine as more than half-a-million people face catastrophic levels of hunger, the World Food Programme’s chief economist, said yesterday in a video on X.

“We can still avoid this famine. But we need to make sure that people have food, people have water, they have shelter, they have sanitation,” Arif Husain said.

For that to happen, border crossings into the enclave need to open up, he said, before calling for a humanitarian cease-fire.

Only a few dozen aid trucks are being let into the Strip on a daily basis. Hundreds would enter before Oct. 7. when Hamas launched a multipronged attack on Israel.

Christmas in Bethlehem

HAZEM BADER / AFP – Getty Images

Worshippers attend Christmas morning mass at the Saint Catherine’s Church, in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

HAZEM BADER / AFP – Getty Images

Nuns pray inside the Grotto, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the Church of the Nativity.

HAZEM BADER / AFP – Getty Images

This aerial view shows people unfurling a giant Palestinian flag as they gather at the Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity.

Iran denies role in Indian Ocean tanker strike

Iran’s foreign ministry today, rejected American accusations that it had a role to play in drone attack that struck a chemical tanker in the Indian Ocean.

Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying the U.S. claims were “endless.”

“The U.S. government has attracted the world nations’ public hatred with its measures and support for the Israeli regime,” Kanaani was quoted as saying. He added that Iran was committed to maritime safety.

Hamas leader killed as Israeli operations go on in Khan Younis, IDF spokesperson says

A warplane killed a Hamas leader in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza as Israel’s navy, ground forces and air forces, engage in joint combat across the Gaza Strip, a spokesperson for the country’s military in a statement today.

Avichay Adraee added that militants “holding a rocket-propelled grenade in their hands,” had also been “eliminated by an Air Force plane.”

An IDF brigade also found weaponry inside a building, Adraee added, saying its troops destroyed Hamas infrastructure inside home of a militant.

NBC News has not independently verified the claims.

Maersk prepares to resume shipping operations in Red Sea

Denmark’s Maersk is preparing to resume shipping operations in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the company said today, citing the deployment of a U.S.-led military operation designed to ensure the safety of commerce in the area.

The shipping giant paused sending vessels through the Bab el-Mandeb strait earlier this month because of attacks against its ships. That rendered the Suez Canal, which is key to global commerce, unusable for most routes.

The U.S. said Tuesday it was launching a multinational operation to protect commerce in the Red Sea from Iran-backed Yemeni militants, who have been firing drones and missiles at international vessels since last month in what they say is a response to Israel’s war in Gaza.

As a result of this, Maersk said it was “preparing to allow for vessels to resume transit through the Red Sea both eastbound and westbound.”

Mother of Vermont shooting victim says leaders contributing to hate

Elizabeth Price, a former U.N. consultant who contributed to the 2014 post-reconstruction plans in the Gaza Strip, is intimately familiar with the region’s cycle of violence.

However, that cycle hit even closer to home when her 20-year-old son, Hisham Awartani, and his two friends were shot in Vermont in a possible hate crime. The incident left her son partially paralyzed, but Price and her family remain hopeful.

“He draws great strength from his experience of being Palestinian. Even though he has had this terrible thing happen to him, he’s luckier than many Palestinians right now,” Price said.

142 UNRWA staff members killed in Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said today that six more staff members had been killed in Gaza, bringing the total to 142 since the war began.

Today’s situation report said at least two of its staff were killed in airstrikes near a school in Rafah last week. Information about the four other deaths was not provided.

The agency said 301 internally displaced people have been killed sheltering in UNRWA facilities since Oct. 7, with more than 1,000 others injured in its installations.

It cited the current death toll provided by Ministry of Health in Gaza in its report, adding that 53,320 Palestinians have been injured.

Catch up on NBC News’ latest coverage of the war