December 3, 2023

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Violent clashes in Gaza as Israeli forces expand their ground offensive

Violent clashes in Gaza as Israeli forces expand their ground offensive
  • The latest developments
  • 20 Palestinians were killed in night confrontations with Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip – Palestinian medical sources
  • More than 600 targets were struck in Gaza – the Israeli army
  • Four Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid on the West Bank – Palestinian Ministry of Health
  • Israel is bombarding the northern Gaza Strip with violent air and artillery bombardment

GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinians in Gaza reported heavy air and artillery strikes early on Monday as Israeli forces backed by tanks pushed into the Strip with a ground offensive, prompting more international calls to protect civilians.

The Israeli army said it had struck more than 600 militant targets over the past few days as it continued to expand ground operations in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian civilians are in dire need of fuel, food and clean water as the conflict enters its fourth week.

The army said in a statement, “Israeli army forces killed dozens of terrorists who holed up in buildings and tunnels and tried to attack the forces.”

Palestinian media said that Israeli air strikes hit areas near Al-Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals in Gaza, and that Palestinian militants clashed with Israeli forces in a border area east of the city of Khan Yunis in the south.

Medical officials in Gaza said that at least 20 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded overnight when Israeli ground forces penetrated the coastal enclave from multiple directions.

Residents said they heard gunfire and explosions throughout the night. Hamas and Islamic Jihad said that their members were participating in fighting with Israeli forces in Gaza and in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the reports.

Israel released photos of combat tanks on the western coast of the Strip, indicating a possible effort to besiege Gaza’s main city two days after the Israeli government ordered expanded ground incursions. Some pictures published on the Internet also showed Israeli soldiers waving the Israeli flag deep in Gaza. Reuters was unable to verify the images.

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Israel’s declared “second phase” of its three-week war against Iran-backed Hamas militants has remained largely out of sight, with troops moving under darkness and Palestinians being cut off from telecommunications.

Phone and Internet outages appeared to ease on Sunday, but Paltel Communications said Israeli air strikes once again led to an outage of Internet and phone service in parts of the northern parts of Gaza, where Hamas command centers are located.

The power outage severely hampered rescue operations for victims of the Israeli bombing.

The reported raids near hospitals came after the Palestinian Red Crescent said on Sunday that it had received warnings from Israeli authorities to immediately evacuate the Jerusalem hospital, as about 14,000 people had taken refuge there.

Israel accused Hamas of establishing command centers and other military infrastructure in Gaza hospitals, something the movement denies.

About 50,000 people have also taken shelter at Al-Shifa Hospital, Palestinian officials said, adding that they were concerned about Israeli threats to the facility.

Israel has tightened its siege and bombing of Gaza since Hamas militants stormed Israel on October 7. Israeli authorities say that activists killed about 1,400 people and took at least 239 hostage.

The army also intensified its operations against Islamist groups in the West Bank, killing dozens of Palestinians and arresting hundreds.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that Israeli security forces killed four people during a raid in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank early Monday morning.

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Calls for a pause

The escalating attacks coincided with the escalation of international protests for a “humanitarian truce” to allow aid to enter.

An informed source told Reuters that the negotiations mediated by Qatar between Israel and Hamas continued on Sunday, and included discussions about the possible release of hostages.

The source, who requested anonymity, said that Hamas wants a five-day humanitarian truce for Israeli operations to allow aid and fuel to enter the besieged Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of all civilian hostages held by the movement.

The Israeli government says that more than half of the hostages held by Hamas hold foreign passports from 25 countries, including 54 Thai citizens.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to review the humanitarian situation in Gaza on Monday. The 15-member organization has voted unsuccessfully four times over the past two weeks on draft resolutions aimed at taking action on the war, but the 193-member UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Friday to call for an immediate humanitarian truce.

US President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday to protect civilians in Gaza and “immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian aid,” the White House said.

Colonel Elad Goren of the Office for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli Defense Ministry agency that coordinates with the Palestinians, said Israel would allow a significant increase in aid to Gaza in the next few days, and Palestinian civilians should head to a “humanitarian zone” in the south of the Strip. Small area.

Medical authorities in Gaza, which has a population of 2.3 million, said on Sunday that 8,005 people, including 3,324 minors, had been killed.

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The media office of the Hamas-run Gaza government said that 116 paramedics and 35 journalists had been killed since the outbreak of the conflict.

Reuters was unable to independently verify these numbers.

Israel has pledged to eliminate Hamas, a mission it describes as requiring long-term ground attacks in, around and under Gaza City, where the militants have an extensive network of underground bunkers.

There are also fears that the war could spread to the region, including Lebanon, where the Israeli army and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group are exchanging fire.

Syrian state television reported on Monday that Israeli air strikes targeted two army positions in Daraa, resulting in “some material losses.”

The conflict sparked large demonstrations around the world in support of the Palestinians. Several thousand people gathered on Sunday in Beirut to show solidarity with Gaza.

Russian authorities said police took control of an airport in the Muslim-majority Dagestan region and arrested 60 people after hundreds of anti-Israel protesters stormed the facility on Sunday as a plane arrived from Israel.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Youmna Ihab, James McKenzie, Dan Williams and Jonathan Landay – Prepared by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin – Prepared by Nidal al-Mughrabi for the Arabic Bulletin) Writing by David Loder and Stephen Coates. Edited by Clarence Fernandez and Miral Fahmy

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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A senior correspondent with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.