Israeli Forces Push Deeper into Gaza’s North And South

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Israeli forces killed at least 38 Palestinians in aerial and ground bombardments across the Gaza Strip on Thursday and battled in close combat with Hamas-led militants in areas of the southern city of Rafah, health officials and Hamas media said.

Israeli tanks advanced in Rafah’s southeast, edged towards the city’s western district of Yibna, and continued to operate in three eastern suburbs, residents said.

“The occupation (Israeli forces) is trying to move further to the west. They are on the edge of Yibna, which is densely populated. They didn’t invade it yet,” one resident said, asking not to be named.

We hear explosions, and we see black smoke coming up from the areas where the army has invaded. It was another very difficult night.” Reports said.

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on the northern and southern edges of Gaza this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes, and have cut off the main access routes for aid, raising the risk of famine.

Israel launched its assault on Gaza following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7 in which fighters killed 1,200 people and captured more than 250 hostages by Israeli tallies.

Since then, Israel’s assault in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 people, with thousands more feared buried under the rubble, according to Gaza health authorities.

Hostages In Rafah
Israel says it has no choice but to attack Rafah to root out the last battalions of Hamas fighters it believes are sheltering there.

Hamas is in Rafah, Hamas has been holding our hostages in Rafah, which is why our forces are manoeuvring in Rafah. We’re doing this in a targeted and precise way,” Israeli chief military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a statement on Thursday.

We’re protecting Gazan civilians in Rafah from being a layer of protection for Hamas by encouraging them to temporarily evacuate to humanitarian areas… So far, we have eliminated dozens of Hamas terrorists, exposed dozens of terror tunnels, and destroyed vast amounts of infrastructure.”

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency in Gaza, estimated as of Monday that more than 800,000 people had fled Rafah since Israel began targeting the city in early May, despite international pleas for restraint.

Suze van Meegan, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Emergency Response Leader in Gaza, said many civilians were still stuck.

The city of Rafah is now comprised of three entirely different worlds: the east is an archetypal war zone, the middle is a ghost town, and the west is a congested mass of people living in deplorable conditions,” she said in a statement.

In parallel, Israeli forces stepped up a ground offensive in Jabalia, where the military has razed several residential areas, and struck nearby Beit Hanoun town, areas where Israel declared major operations over months ago. Israel says it has had to return to prevent Hamas from regrouping there.

The Israeli military said in a statement that forces began conducting targeted raids in Beit Hanoun “to eliminate terrorists, locate and strike terror infrastructure, below and above the ground.”
A senior Hamas security official, Diaa Aldeen Al-Shurafa, was killed in an Israeli strike as he toured residential districts of Gaza City, the interior ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said.

The Israeli military said three soldiers had been killed in the fighting on Wednesday, raising the number killed since Gaza incursions began on Oct. 20 to 286 soldiers.

 

 

 

 

Reuters/Shakirat Sadiq

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