Israeli forces battle Hamas in main southern Gaza city

An image taken from southern Israel exhibits destroyed buildings in Gaza (JACK GUEZ)

Israeli forces battled Hamas militants in Gaza’s major southern metropolis on Wednesday in among the most intense fight of the two-month-old struggle sparked by the October 7 assaults.

The main focus of the battle has shifted into the besieged territory’s south following fierce preventing and bombardment that diminished a lot of the north to rubble and compelled 1.9 million individuals to flee.

Israeli troops, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers have rolled into Khan Yunis within the south, Gaza’s second largest metropolis, forcing already displaced civilians to pack up and flee once more, witnesses advised AFP.

“Our forces are actually encircling the Khan Yunis space within the southern Gaza Strip,” Israel’s military chief Herzi Halevi stated Tuesday.

“We have now secured many Hamas strongholds within the northern Gaza Strip, and now we’re working in opposition to its strongholds within the south.”

The preventing was “probably the most intense day for the reason that starting of the bottom operation” in late October, stated the military’s Southern Command chief Main Common Yaron Finkelman.

The streets of Khan Yunis have been nearly empty on Wednesday morning as residents tried to take shelter from shelling and artillery fireplace, stated AFP journalists, whereas the useless and wounded continued to pour into town’s hospitals.

Israel declared struggle on Hamas after the militant group’s October 7 assaults that killed 1,200 individuals, principally civilians, in response to Israeli authorities, and noticed round 240 hostages taken.

The most recent toll from the Hamas-run authorities media workplace stated 16,248 individuals in Gaza, most of them girls and kids, had been killed.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and free 138 hostages nonetheless held after scores have been launched throughout a short-lived truce.

In a morning briefing the military stated it had struck about 250 targets within the Gaza Strip over the previous day and that troops have been “persevering with to find weapons, underground shafts, explosives and extra navy infrastructure”.

The civilian mass casualties in Gaza have sparked international concern, heightened by dire shortages introduced by an Israeli siege that has seen solely restricted provides of meals, water, gas and medicines enter.

Hassan Al-Qadi, a displaced Khan Yunis resident, stated “the entire metropolis is affected by destruction and relentless shelling.

“Many individuals arriving from northern Gaza are dealing with dire circumstances. Many are homeless and a few are trying to find their lacking youngsters.”

“We aren’t mere numbers. We’re human beings,” he stated, talking within the southern metropolis of Rafah.

The violence in Gaza “now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian inhabitants in our time and age”, charged assist group the Norwegian Refugee Council, which additionally warned of the dire public well being menace of the approaching winter.

– ‘Panic, worry, anxiousness’ –

A number of Hamas commanders have been killed in an air strike close to the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza, the Israeli navy stated early Wednesday on social media platform X.

Sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, one other Palestinian militant group, advised AFP their fighters have been battling Israeli troops early Wednesday in a bid to forestall them from breaking into Khan Yunis and surrounding areas.

In response to the Hamas-run authorities media workplace, dozens have been killed and injured in heavy strikes on areas east of Khan Yunis.

The Hamas-run well being ministry stated air strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza killed six individuals and wounded 14 others.

Israel had beforehand advised civilians within the north of the densely populated Gaza Strip to hunt shelter within the south of the territory, with many fleeing to Khan Yunis believing it could be safer.

Because the struggle expands, Israel has advised individuals to maneuver even additional south, sparking “panic, worry and anxiousness”, in response to Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN company for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

Folks have been being pushed into an space that’s lower than one-third of the Gaza Strip, with roads to the south clogged, he stated.

Worldwide assist teams have condemned the succession of orders to flee from one space to a different, saying that civilians have been operating out of choices.

“Nowhere is protected in Gaza,” stated United Nations humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths. “Not hospital, not shelters, not refugee camps. Nobody is protected.”

Following calls for to create areas the place civilians may shelter, Israel’s military revealed a map it stated was meant to allow Gazans to “evacuate from particular locations for his or her security if required”.

However the UN criticised the map, saying it was unattainable to create protected zones for civilians to flee to inside Gaza.

“The so-called protected zones… are usually not scientific, they aren’t rational, they aren’t potential, and I feel the authorities are conscious of this,” stated James Elder, spokesman for the UN youngsters’s company UNICEF.

– West Financial institution clashes –

An estimated 1.9 million persons are displaced in Gaza — roughly 80 p.c of the inhabitants, in response to UN figures.

Gazans, their belongings piled onto donkey carts, battered autos and camels, have headed additional south to attempt to escape the increasing Israeli offensive.

In northern Gaza, the Israeli navy stated it had encircled the Jabalia refugee camp and in addition raided a Hamas Inside Safety Forces command and management centre.

It stated Wednesday that the variety of Israeli troopers killed inside Gaza for the reason that struggle started had risen to 83.

Preventing resumed after the collapse on Friday of a Qatar-mediated truce that noticed scores of Israeli and different hostages launched in change for Palestinian prisoners.

The struggle has sparked fears of a wider regional battle, with frequent exchanges of fireside with Iran-backed Hezbollah throughout Israel’s border with Lebanon.

A Lebanese soldier was killed by Israeli fireplace on a navy submit close to the nation’s southern border Tuesday, the military stated.

The occupied West Financial institution has additionally seen an upsurge in violence.

Israeli troops raided Faraa refugee camp within the north of the territory early Wednesday, sparking clashes that killed two individuals, one in all them aged 16, in response to Palestinian information company Wafa.

Greater than 250 individuals have been killed within the West Financial institution since October, in response to Palestinian authorities.

bur-fz/dr

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