Israel maintains pressure on last two refugee towns, kills 18 health officials


By Nidal Al-Mughrabi and Ibrahim Abu Mustafa

DOHA/GAZA (Reuters) – Gaza health officials said on Saturday that Israeli airstrikes killed 18 Palestinians in Rafah and Deir al-Balah, the last two Gaza Strip cities where troops were not deployed, leading to Residents feared that Israel would expand its ground operations.

An Israeli airstrike on a home in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are now homeless, killed 14 people, including women and children, health officials said.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Galant said forces would now press on to Rafah on Gaza’s southern edge.

war in israel and gaza

Topshot - People examine a damaged car that reportedly killed 3 people after being hit by an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, amid ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, January 31, 2024 It was done.  (Photo by Saeed Khatib/AFP) (Photo by Saeed Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands of people have arrived in Rafah in recent days, carrying luggage and carrying children in carts, since Israeli forces last week launched one of their biggest offensives of the war to capture the main southern city of Khan Yunis. did.

“The place went black, I couldn’t see what was in front of me. It was all dust and dirt. I was touching my surroundings, I was using my mobile to use the torch to see my children. I was searching, where are they? I found them under the debris,” said Ahmed Bassam al-Jamal, whose son was killed.

“I screamed for help and people came. I pulled Yameen out first, he was the only person I could see, the others were still under the debris. They pulled Yameen, Eileen and Sila out and they found their mother. “(Everyone is alive). We couldn’t find Bassam, we were looking for him, but he was buried, we couldn’t save them, I swear we couldn’t,” Jamal said at the hospital. I said while bidding farewell to my dead son.

In the central Gaza Strip city of Deir al-Balah, the other major center for displaced people, medics said four people were killed in an airstrike on a house on Saturday.

In nearby Khan Yunis, residents said the army blew up a residential district near the city center.

The Gaza Health Ministry said heavy Israeli bombardment around the city’s two main hospitals was weakening health care systems and endangering the lives of staff, patients and displaced people seeking shelter there.

On Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said four people were killed in Israeli gunfire against al-Amal hospital.

In Gaza City, residents and militants said fighting was continuing against Israeli forces. Health officials said two people were killed by sniper fire. Israeli forces made the arrests in the southern suburb of Tel al-Hawa.

Israel has launched a war on Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel in October, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages in Gaza, among them More than 100 are still held captive, according to Israel’s tally.

Israeli officials say their goal is to eliminate Hamas, which has vowed to repeat the October attacks, and repatriate the hostages, many of whom are women and children.

Gaza health officials, who do not distinguish between the number of militants and civilians, say more than 27,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed since the war began, 107 of them in the last 24 hours. , while thousands more are feared lost in the ruins.

The Israeli military said its forces killed dozens of Palestinian gunmen in northern Gaza.

“During targeted raids in the northern and central Gaza Strip the previous day, IDF troops killed dozens of militants and destroyed several anti-tank missile launchers,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other smaller militant groups said in a separate statement that their fighters were engaged in fierce fighting with the army in the north and south of the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian militant official said, “The more occupation forces remain on the ground, the more we will get to them.”

“One martyr falls, another gets up and takes a rifle and we are ready to fight for many months,” he told Reuters.

When asked why Israel said it had killed 10,000 terrorists, he said, “It’s for public consumption in the occupied entity. It’s fiction.”

Mediators are awaiting Hamas’s response to the war’s first extended ceasefire proposal, which was drawn up last week with Israeli and US spy chiefs and communicated by Egypt and Qatar. It was unclear when Hamas leaders would travel to Cairo to respond.

A brief ceasefire in November lasted only a week, when militants freed 110 women, children and foreign hostages in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

On Friday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who is leading talks with Qatar and Egypt, said he spoke to the head of Islamic Jihad, a Hamas ally, and the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to discuss a ceasefire. Proposal.

A Hamas statement said the discussions stressed that: “Any negotiations must lead to a complete end to aggression, the withdrawal of occupation forces outside the Gaza Strip, the lifting of the siege,” as well as reconstruction, Provision must be made for Gaza’s basic needs. And a complete exchange of prisoners.

However, Israel says Hamas must be destroyed before it can pull out its troops or free detainees, and its main ally, the United States, has not publicly set any targets that would question that. .

(Reporting and writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Doha; Additional reporting by Emily Rose in Jerusalem, Ibrahim Abu Mustafa in Gaza; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters,


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