February 24, 2024

Brighton Journal

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The Israeli offensive moves into the crowded southern Gaza Strip, leading to a rising death toll despite evacuation orders

The Israeli offensive moves into the crowded southern Gaza Strip, leading to a rising death toll despite evacuation orders

KHAN YOUNIS (Gaza Strip) – Israel bombed targets in the crowded southern Gaza Strip on Saturday and ordered the evacuation of more neighborhoods earmarked for the attack, sending the death toll soaring as the United States and others urged it to do more to protect civilians a day later. The truce collapsed.

The prospects for a ceasefire in Gaza appeared bleak, as Israel summoned its negotiators, and the deputy leader of Hamas said that any further exchange of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel would only take place as part of ending the war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech on Saturday evening: “We will continue the war until we achieve all its goals, and it is impossible to achieve these goals without the ground operation.”

At least 200 Palestinians have been killed since then The fighting resumed on Friday morning After a week-long truce with the ruling Hamas movement in the Strip, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Several multi-storey residential buildings were bombed on Saturday, engulfing neighborhoods in huge clouds of smoke.

Separately, the ministry said the total death toll in Gaza since the operation began on October 7 war The death toll exceeded 15,200, a sharp jump from the previous toll of more than 13,300 on November 20. The ministry does not differentiate between deaths between civilians and fighters, but it said that 70% of the dead were women and children. She said that more than 40,000 people have been injured since the start of the war.

Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. “Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming out of Gaza are devastating.” COP28 climate conference in Dubai.

The appeals made by the United States, Israel’s closest ally, to protect civilians came after an attack in the first weeks of the war that led to the destruction of large areas in northern Gaza. About two million Palestinians, roughly the entire population of Gaza, now live in the southern half of the Strip.

The Israeli military said it struck more than 400 Hamas targets across Gaza over the past day, including more than 50 targets in the city of Khan Yunis and surrounding areas in the south.

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Palestinian Red Crescent spokesman Mahmoud Basal told Al Jazeera that there were more than 300 “martyrs” in the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza City and that the homes had been razed to the ground. The Israeli army said it killed the commander of the Hamas-affiliated Shujaiya Brigade, but did not provide details about the operation. Residents could not be reached.

In northern Gaza, an air strike destroyed a building hosting families in the Jabalia refugee camp, located on the outskirts of Gaza City. Residents Hamza Obaid and Amal Radwan said that the bombing left dozens dead and wounded.

“The building turned into a pile of rubble,” Obaid said. An Associated Press video showed smoke billowing as men, some wearing sandals, made their way over the wreckage. The Israeli army confirmed that it was operating in Jabalia and said that it had found and destroyed Hamas tunnels in the surrounding area.

A powerful strike struck a group of multi-storey buildings in Hamad Town, a Qatari-financed housing project located on the outskirts of Khan Yunis. Smoke engulfed the complex. There was no immediate news about the victims.

“Where is he safe? I swear to God no one knows, where are we going?” asked Zuhair al-Rai, who said his family had received a recorded message saying they had to evacuate the building.

Also in the south, at least nine people, including three children, were killed in a raid on a house in Deir al-Balah, according to the hospital to which the bodies were transferred.

On the other hand, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza said they fired a barrage of rockets at southern Israel. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, said that Hamas had fired more than 250 rockets since the end of the ceasefire. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

During a visit on Saturday to Israel and the West Bank city of Ramallah, the ICC chief prosecutor said his office was serious about moving forward with an investigation into allegations of war crimes on both sides.

“Every actor should have no doubt that he must abide by the law now,” Karim Khan told Palestine TV. “And if you don’t comply with the law now, don’t complain later.”

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As fighting resumed, the Israeli military published a map online dividing Gaza into hundreds of numbered plots of land and asked residents to identify the number of their locations before evacuation warnings.

On Saturday, the army listed more than twenty plots of land in the vicinity of Gaza City and east of Khan Yunis. Separately, occupation aircraft dropped leaflets containing evacuation orders on towns east of Khan Yunis.

A resident of Khan Yunis said that a neighbor received a phone call from the Israeli army warning that homes in the area were being bombed. A resident named Hikmat Al-Qudra said: “We told them: We have nothing here, why do you want to hit him?” Al-Qudra said the house was destroyed.

The maps and leaflets have caused panic and confusion in the crowded south, where people cannot go into northern Gaza or neighboring Egypt and are left to navigate within an area of ​​220 square kilometers (85 square miles).

“There is nowhere to go,” said Imad Hajar, who fled to Khan Yunis a month ago. “they They expelled us from the northNow they are pushing us to leave the south.”

Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, said Israel was making a “maximum effort” to protect civilians, and that the military had used leaflets, phone calls and radio and television broadcasts to urge Gazans to move from specific areas. He added that Israel is considering establishing a security buffer zone that does not allow Gazans to directly reach the border fence on foot.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas activists It blames civilian casualties on militants and accuses them of operating in residential neighborhoods. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says that 77 of its soldiers were killed in the attack on northern Gaza.

The Palestinian Red Crescent announced, on Saturday, that it received the first convoy of aid trucks through the Rafah crossing with Egypt since the resumption of fighting. Wael Abu Omar, spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority, said that 100 trucks entered, including three carrying 150,000 liters (about 40,000 gallons) of fuel.

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Meanwhile, Harris informed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in a meeting The United States will not “under any circumstances” allow the forced transfer of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the continued blockade of Gaza or the redrawing of its borders, according to a US summary.

the October 7 attack By Hamas and other militants About 1,200 people were killedThe majority of them are civilians in southern Israel. About 240 people were taken prisoner.

The intensity of renewed hostilities escalated Concerns about 137 hostagesWho the Israeli army says is still detained after 105 of them were released During the truce. A 70-year-old woman who was being held by Hamas was declared dead on Saturday, according to the kibbutz where she lived. She was the eighth hostage to die.

At a rally of tens of thousands in Tel Aviv, the released hostages called for the release of the rest. In a video speech, Yaffa Adar, 85, spoke specifically about the detained children, saying: “I want to see them now – not when I’m in a coffin.”

Hamas and Israel disagreed over who was still detained.

Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera that any remaining hostages were men who served in the Israeli army. This contradicts another senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, who told The Associated Press on Friday that the movement was willing to exchange more hostages but rejected an Israeli request to release 10 female soldiers.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said that Hamas violated the truce agreement by refusing to return two children and 15 women.

During the truce, Israel released 240 Palestinians. Most of those released by both sides were women and children.

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Marwa reported from Beirut and Anna reported from New York. Associated Press writers Julia Frankel, Iris Samuels and Nabi Qena in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war