Israel launches heavy attacks on central and southern Gaza


RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel launched heavy strikes overnight and Wednesday in central and southern Gaza after expanding its offensive against Hamas to more areas where the army had told Palestinians to take shelter. in the first war,

Residents reported heavy bombardment of the Burij refugee camp in central Gaza, the southern city of Khan Younis and the southern city of Rafah, where thousands have taken refuge in northern Gaza. reduced to rubble,

“That was a night from hell. We haven’t seen this kind of bombing since the war started,” Rami Abu Mosab said, speaking from Bureij camp, where he has been taking refuge since fleeing his home in northern Gaza.

He said warplanes were flying overhead and the sounds of gunfire and explosions echoed from the eastern edge of the camp – which, like others in Gaza, shelters refugees and their descendants from the 1948 war around Israel’s creation. and now resembles other densely populated areas.

A house near Abu Mosab’s shelter was attacked, he said, but no one could reach that area. Mobile phone and internet service remained down for several hours before being gradually restored on Wednesday, the latest of several such disruptions that have complicated rescue efforts.

With much of northern Gaza leveled, Palestinians fear a similar fate awaits other areas, including Khan Yunis, where Israeli forces began a ground campaign in early December, and built-up settlements in central Gaza. A cluster of refugee camps where the focus has been this week.

The army’s latest evacuation orders include an area of ​​central Gaza that was home to about 90,000 people before the war and now hosts more than 61,000 displaced people, mostly from the north, according to the UN humanitarian office.

Israel has said that the bombing campaign and ground offensive are necessary to eliminate Hamas and prevent its recurrence. This is the October 7 attackIn which terrorists broke through Israel’s formidable defenses and killed about 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and abducted about 240. It is estimated that 129 people are in captivity after dozens have been freed.

Israel has said it will take “several months” to achieve its goals.

Death, displacement and starvation

its offensive is already a most destructive military operations In recent history. More than 21,100 PalestiniansNearly 200 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

In Khan Yunis, the Palestinian Red Crescent said Israel attacked a residential building next to al-Amal hospital, which is run by the rescue service. Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said at least 20 people were killed and dozens of others were injured, with the death toll likely to rise.

About 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, and have been concentrated in smaller and smaller areas in recent weeks as the ground offensive has expanded. For many Palestinians, there are echoes of the exodus Mass displacement in 1948 Which they call Nakba or catastrophe.

UN officials say a quarter of the region’s population is starving under Israel’s siege, which has prevented access to food, water, fuel, medicine and other supplies. Last week, UN Security Council There have been calls to immediately speed up aid distribution, but there have been no signs of change.

America asked Israel to curb civilian casualtiesAnd international pressure for a ceasefire has had little effect.

Israel blames Hamas for the massive civilian casualties in Gaza as the militants operate in dense, residential areas. The army says it has killed thousands of terrorists without presenting any evidence and 164 of its soldiers have been killed since the ground offensive began.

attacks in lebanon, west bank

The war has ignited other fronts throughout the Middle East.

Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group have repeatedly exchanged fire along the border. A Hezbollah fighter, his brother and his sister-in-law were killed in an overnight Israeli strike on a family home, local officials and state media said on Wednesday. Another family member was injured.

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces killed at least six Palestinians during an overnight raid on the Nour Shams-built refugee camp, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. There have been more than 300 Palestinians killed in the West Bank Since the beginning of the war, confrontations with Israeli forces have occurred mostly during raids and protests.

As fears of a wider conflict grow, the US, Qatar and Egypt are working on a new deal to release more hostages. US President Joe Biden spoke to the ruling Emir of Qatar on Tuesday.

Hamas says no hostages will be released until Israel ends the war and it will exchange any remaining captives for large numbers of Palestinian prisoners, including high-profile terrorists. Israel has rejected both demands.

Egypt has made a proposal To end the war that would include the release of all hostages held in Gaza and all Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, as well as the establishment of a government of Palestinian technocrats to administer Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

It was well received by both sides, but no one rejected it outright.


Shurafa reported from Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, and Magdi reported from Cairo.


Find more about AP’s coverage here


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