Displaced Palestinians flood southern Gaza city as Israel escalates offensive into center


RAFA, Gaza Strip (AP) — Thousands of displaced Palestinians have flocked to the city of Rafah, on the southernmost tip of Gaza, in recent days, according to the United Nations, as Israeli forces continued shelling the densely populated areas on Friday. In the center of the strip, dozens of people were killed.

Israel's unprecedented air and ground attacks Hamas has displaced about 85% of the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million residents, with large numbers taking refuge in Israel-designated safe zones, which the military has also bombed. This has given Palestinians the sad realization that nowhere in this small area is safe.

Israel's massive campaign, which has already taken place Most of northern Gaza leveledThe focus is now on built-up areas in central Gaza, residents said, where Israeli warplanes and artillery attacked the urban refugee camps of Burij, Nussirat and Maghaji, leveling buildings.

But fighting is going on in many areas of Gaza. it is not reduced in answerWhere Hamas is still facing tough resistance from Israeli soldiers. And the second-largest city of Khan Yunis in the south, where Israel believes Hamas leaders are hiding, is also a smoldering battlefield.

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Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and return more than 100 hostages still held by the militants. Their attack on southern Israel on October 7, About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the attack.

Israeli officials have rejected international calls for a ceasefire, saying it would be a victory for Hamas.

The United Nations said late Thursday that about 100,000 people had arrived in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, in recent days. This influx forces even more people into Gaza most densely populated areas,

Israel has told residents of central Gaza to evacuate and head towards Rafah and the central city of Deir al-Balah. But even after the arrival of the displaced people, Rafah has not been saved from Israeli attacks.

An attack on Thursday evening destroyed a residential building, killing at least 23 people, according to the media office of nearby Al-Kuwaiti Hospital.

At the hospital, residents arrived carrying a baby whose face was caked in dust and who started crying when doctors took off his Mickey Mouse onesie to examine his injuries.

Shorouk Abu Oun fled fighting in northern Gaza a month ago and took refuge in her sister's house, which is located near Thursday's strike

Speaking at that hospital, Abu Aoun said, "We were displaced from the north and came here because they (the Israeli army) said it was safe." “I wish we had been martyred there (in northern Gaza) and not come here.”

Displaced people reached Rafah in trucks, vehicles and many on foot. Those who could not find space in the already overcrowded shelters have set up tents on roadsides, especially near hospitals.

Residents said several houses were hit overnight in Nusirat and Maghazi on Friday. The registration office of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Gaza's central city of Deir al-Balah said it had received the bodies of 40 people, including 28 women, who were killed in Israeli attacks in central Gaza.

"They are attacking everywhere," Saeed Mustafa, a Palestinian from Nussirat, said of Israeli forces. “Families are killed inside their homes and on the streets. They are killed everywhere.”

Heavy fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants was also reported in Burij, according to Rami Abu Mosab, a Palestinian displaced from northern Gaza who was taking refuge in Burij.

Israel said this week is expanding its ground offensive in central GazaTargeting crowded neighborhoods throughout the region that were built to house some of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

Israel says Hamas has penetrated into the civilian population and its forces have uncovered weapons caches underground tunnel Shafts in residential buildings, schools and mosques.

But even Israel's closest ally, the United States, has urged it to take more precautions to protect civilians and allow more aid. Israel says it warns civilians to leave areas it is targeting in a variety of ways and has worked to be more precise in its evacuation orders.

In an initial review of the incident, the Israeli military said that buildings near the targets were also hit during the strikes, adding that "additional unarmed civilians are likely to suffer unexpected losses." The army said in a statement on Thursday that it regretted the loss caused to civilians and would learn from the incident.

Israel rarely comments on specific attacks and rarely admits fault even when civilians are killed.

Israel's offensive in Gaza has already been one of most destructive military operations In recent history. More than 21,300 PalestiniansAccording to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, most of these women and children have been killed. It said another 55,600 were injured. Those values ​​do not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Without presenting any evidence, the army says that it has killed thousands of terrorists and 168 of its soldiers have been killed and hundreds injured As the ground offensive began in late October.

Magee reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Tia Goldenberg contributed to this report from Tel Aviv, Israel.

Copyright 2023 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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