Thursday, July 25, 2024

Israel Intensifies Attack on Southern Gaza; US, UN for civilian protection

  • Recent Developments:
  • Israeli forces kill one in West Bank
  • Israel says three of its soldiers were killed in fighting in Gaza on Monday
  • Israel Considers Filling Gaza Tunnels with Seawater to Drive Out Hamas Militants – WSJ

Gaza, Dec. 5 (Reuters) – Israeli forces continued aerial and ground bombardments in the southern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, despite repeated calls from the United States and the United Nations to protect civilians.

Asked Monday about the rising death toll since Friday’s cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Israel’s closest ally, the United States, said it was too early to say whether Israel was doing enough to protect civilians and expected Israel not to attack. Identified as safe.

Residents and journalists on the ground said intense Israeli airstrikes in the south of the heavily populated coastal region included areas where Israel had asked people to seek refuge.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to Israel to refrain from further action that would worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in Hamas-run Gaza and to spare civilians further suffering.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas… If people are ordered to leave, there is nowhere safe to go, much less survive,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Israel largely seized northern Gaza in November and has quickly pushed deeper into the south since a week-long ceasefire collapsed on Friday.

The armed wing of Hamas ally Islamic Jihad said its fighters were engaged in heavy clashes with Israeli soldiers north and east of Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Yunis.

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Israeli tanks crossed the border into Gaza and cut off the main north-south route, residents said. The Israeli military said the central road north from Khan Yunis was “a war zone” and was now closed.

Israel said on Tuesday that three of its soldiers had died in fighting in Gaza on Monday, in what military radio described as a day of heavy fighting with Hamas militants. Seventy-eight soldiers have died since the army’s ground occupation of Gaza began.

Israel launched its offensive to destroy Hamas in response to an October 7 cross-border attack by Hamas gunmen on border towns, kibbutzim and a music festival. The militants killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, according to Israeli calculations – the worst single day in Israel’s 75-year history.

In the eight-week war, at least 15,899 Palestinians, 70% of whom were women or under the age of 18, were killed, according to the Gazan health ministry.

UN Assistance for Palestinian Refugees in Gaza Philippe Lazzarini, head of the agency (UNRWA), said Israel’s resumption of military operations was repeating “the horrors of the past weeks” by displacing previously displaced people, overcrowding hospitals and strangling humanitarian action. For limited items.

“We’ve said it over and over again. We’ll say it again. No place in Gaza is safe, in the south or in the southwest, in Rafah or anywhere in the unilaterally so-called ‘safe zone,'” he said.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated his call on Israel to protect civilian and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals.

“WHO received notice from the Israel Defense Forces to remove our supplies from our medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours, as ground operations will render it unusable,” he posted on Monday on Twitter called X.

Displaced in crowded enclave

80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have already fled their homes in the 8-week war.

On Monday, Israel ordered Palestinians to leave parts of Khan Younis, moving toward the Mediterranean coast and Rafah, a town near the Egyptian border.

Desperate Gazans in Khan Yunis packed their belongings and headed for Rafah. Most were pilgrims, passing the ruined buildings in a solemn and peaceful procession.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said it was an “improvement” that Israel was seeking evacuations in targeted areas as opposed to entire cities.

US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said Washington expects Israel to refrain from attacking areas in Gaza identified as “no-strike” areas.

He said the US had discussed with Israel how long the war with Hamas should continue, but declined to share a timeframe.

A senior Israeli official said it took time to order more precise evacuations to limit civilian casualties, but Israel could not rule them out entirely.

“We did not start this war. We regret the civilian casualties, but if you want to face evil, you have to act,” the official said.

More than 100 hostages taken by Iran-backed Hamas were freed during a seven-day ceasefire last month. While 137 hostages remain in Gaza, Israeli officials say seven civilians and an army colonel died in captivity.

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Gaza’s health ministry says around 900 Palestinians have been killed since the ceasefire ended on Friday.

Israel accuses Hamas of endangering civilians from civilian areas, including tunnels that can only be destroyed by large bombs. Hamas has denied doing so.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Israel had assembled a system of pipes that could be used to flood Hamas tunnels, citing U.S. officials.

It is unclear whether Israel will consider using the pipelines before all hostages are released.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and seriously wounded another in different areas on Tuesday, the Ramallah-based health ministry said.

Reporting by Mohammed Salem in Gaza, Mayan Lubel, Ari Rabinovitch and Emily Rose in Jerusalem, Maggie Figg in Beirut and Andrew Mills in Doha; By Humeyra Pamuk and Stephen Coates; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Kim Coghill

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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