- Recent Developments:
- Residents of Gaza’s north report some of the heaviest fighting of the war so far
- Jordan says Israel aims to expel Palestinians from Gaza
Gaza/Cairo, Dec. 10 (Reuters) – Israeli tanks fought their way into central Khan Yunis on Sunday, sparking a major new push into the heart of the main city in the southern Gaza Strip, which is home to hundreds of thousands of fleeing civilians. Other parts of the accommodation.
Residents said tanks reached the main north-south road through the middle of Khan Younis after intense fighting that slowed the Israeli advance from the east through the night. Fighter jets were attacking on the west side of the attack.
The air continued to ring with the sound of explosions and thick columns of white smoke rose over the city. As morning broke near the city center police station, the sound of machine gun fire continued. The streets were deserted except for an old woman and a woman in a donkey cart.
“It was one of the most terrible nights, the resistance was so strong, we could hear gunfire and explosions non-stop for hours,” Khan Younis, a displaced father of four from Gaza City, told Reuters. He declined to be identified for fear of retaliation.
“Khan Younis tanks reached Jamal Abdel-Nasser Street in the center of the city. Snipers took positions in buildings in the area,” he said.
At the opposite end of the Gaza Strip, in northern areas where Israel previously said its forces had largely completed their missions, residents described some of the fiercest fighting of the war so far.
Israeli troops entered militant strongholds and met fierce resistance in Jabalia and Gaza City’s Shejjaya district, areas still inhabited despite orders issued weeks ago to evacuate the entire north.
“I dare say this is the strongest battle we’ve heard in weeks,” said Nasser, 59, a father of seven who stayed in Jabaliya after his home was destroyed in Beit Lahiya, another northern enclave. Explosions were heard as he spoke. They will leave us alone.”
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007. Militants crossed the fence on October 7 and rampaged through Israeli towns, shooting families in their homes, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages.
Since then, health officials in Gaza say at least 17,700 people have been killed in Israeli attacks, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead in the rubble. Beyond where ambulances and hospitals have stopped functioning, figures for the northern parts of the enclave are no longer included in the bill.
Who is alive?
After weeks of concentrated fighting in the north, Israel this week launched a ground offensive in the south by storming Khan Yunis. International aid agencies say 2.3 million people have no place to hide as fighting rages across the Gaza Strip.
At the site of Khan Younis’ home, which was destroyed in an overnight blast, relatives of the dead combed through the rubble in dismay. They dragged the body of a middle-aged man in a yellow T-shirt from under the masons.
“We prayed the night prayer and went to sleep, then we woke up to the house above us. ‘Who’s alive?!'” Ahmed Abdel Wahab said.
“The top three floors have collapsed and people are under it,” he said. “My mother and father, my sister and brother, all my relatives.”
The main hospital in Khan Yunis, Nasser Hospital, is overflowing with dead and wounded. There was no floor in the emergency department on Sunday as people carried the injured on blankets and carpets. Mohammed Abu Shihab wept and vowed revenge for his son, who he said had been killed by an Israeli sniper.
The Israeli military said it had bombed underground tunnel shafts in Khan Yunis and hit an ambushed group of Palestinian gunmen, but made no mention of any tank advances.
Most of the residents of Gaza are now forced to flee their homes. Israel says it is doing all it can to protect civilians, but even its closest ally, the United States, says it has not kept those promises.
An Israeli blockade cut off supplies, and the United Nations warned of mass starvation and disease.
At an international conference in the Qatari capital of Doha, Arab foreign ministers who acted as key mediators for a week-long ceasefire that freed more than 100 hostages rejected a humanitarian request from the UN. Armistice.
Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the war risks radicalizing a generation across the Middle East. Jordan’s foreign minister said the Israeli campaign was aimed at driving Palestinians from Gaza and met the legal definition of genocide, adding that Israel’s accusations were outrageous.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he will not give up on calls for a ceasefire.
“I urged the Security Council to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and reiterated my call for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared,” Guterres said. “Unfortunately, the Security Council failed to do that, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary.”
Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire. Briefing his cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told the leaders of France, Germany and other countries: “On the one hand you cannot support the elimination of Hamas and on the other hand you cannot pressure us to end the war. The elimination of Hamas.”
(Reporting by Bassam Massoud and Mohamed Salem in Gaza, Nidal al-Mughrabi, Dan Williams, Ari Rabinovitch, Emily Rose and Henriette Saker in Jerusalem; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick McPhee)
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A veteran reporter 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.