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Israeli Forces Battle Hamas in Important Southern Gaza Metropolis

Israeli forces battled Hamas militants in Gaza’s major southern metropolis on Wednesday in among the most intense fight of the almost two-month battle sparked by the October 7 assaults.

Israeli troops, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and bulldozers have rolled into Khan Yunis within the south, Gaza’s second-largest metropolis, forcing already displaced civilians to pack up and flee once more, witnesses informed AFP.

The main focus of the battle has shifted to the besieged Palestinian territory’s south following fierce preventing and bombardment that diminished a lot of the north to rubble and compelled an estimated 1.9 million folks to flee.

“Our forces at the moment are encircling the Khan Yunis space within the southern Gaza Strip,” Israel’s military chief Herzi Halevi mentioned Tuesday.

“We’ve secured many Hamas strongholds within the northern Gaza Strip, and now we’re working towards its strongholds within the south.”

The streets of Khan Yunis had been nearly empty on Wednesday morning as residents tried to take shelter from shelling and artillery hearth, mentioned AFP journalists, whereas the useless and wounded continued to pour into town’s hospitals.

Israel declared battle on Hamas after the militant group’s October 7 assaults that killed 1,200 folks, principally civilians, in response to Israeli authorities, and noticed round 240 hostages taken.

The most recent toll from the Hamas authorities’s media workplace mentioned 16,248 folks in Gaza, most of them girls and youngsters, had been killed.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and free 138 hostages nonetheless held in Gaza after scores had been launched throughout a short-lived truce.

Because the navy “expands its operations to dismantle Hamas in Gaza, we’ve not misplaced sight… of our essential mission to rescue our hostages,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari mentioned.

“The worldwide group should take motion. The Purple Cross will need to have entry to the hostages which can be within the palms of Hamas.”

The mass casualties in Gaza have sparked international concern, heightened by dire shortages introduced by an Israeli siege that has seen solely restricted provides of meals, water, gas and medicines enter.

Hassan al-Qadi, a displaced Khan Yunis resident, mentioned “the entire metropolis is affected by destruction and relentless shelling.

“Many individuals arriving from northern Gaza are dealing with dire circumstances. Many are homeless and a few are trying to find their lacking kids.”

“We’re not mere numbers. We’re human beings,” he mentioned, talking within the southern metropolis of Rafah.

250 Targets Hit

The Israeli military mentioned Wednesday it had struck about 250 targets in Gaza over the previous 24 hours and that troops had been “persevering with to find weapons, underground shafts, explosives and extra navy infrastructure.”

And a number of other Hamas commanders had been killed in an air strike close to the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza, the Israeli navy mentioned on social media platform X.

Sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, one other Palestinian militant group, informed AFP their fighters had been battling Israeli troops early Wednesday in a bid to forestall them from breaking into Khan Yunis and surrounding areas.

In keeping with the Hamas media workplace, dozens had been killed and injured in heavy strikes on areas east of Khan Yunis.

The Hamas-run well being ministry mentioned air strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza killed six folks and wounded 14 others.

Israel had beforehand informed civilians within the north of the densely populated Gaza Strip to hunt shelter within the south of the territory, with many fleeing to Khan Yunis believing it could be safer.

The violence in Gaza “now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian inhabitants in our time and age,” charged support group the Norwegian Refugee Council, which additionally warned of the dire public well being risk of the approaching winter.

Israeli warnings telling folks to maneuver even additional south have sparked “panic, concern and nervousness,” in response to Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN company for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

Folks had been being pushed into an space that’s lower than one-third of the Gaza Strip, he mentioned.

‘Utter Horror’

Worldwide support teams have condemned the succession of orders to flee from one space to a different, saying that civilians had been working out of choices.

“Palestinians in Gaza live in utter, deepening horror,” UN human rights chief Volker Turk informed a press convention, calling for an pressing ceasefire and charging that Gazans are being “collectively punished” for the Hamas assaults.

Following calls for to create areas the place civilians might shelter, Israel’s military revealed a map it mentioned was meant to allow Gazans to “evacuate from particular locations for his or her security if required.”

However the UN kids’s company UNICEF criticized the map, saying it was “not potential” to create secure zones for civilians to flee to inside Gaza.

In keeping with UN figures, some 1.9 million individuals are displaced in Gaza — roughly 80 % of the slim coastal territory’s inhabitants.

Preventing resumed after the collapse on Friday of a Qatar-mediated truce that noticed scores of Israeli and different hostages launched in change for Palestinian prisoners.

The Israeli military mentioned Wednesday that the variety of its troops killed inside Gaza because the battle started had risen to 83.

The battle has sparked fears of a wider regional battle, with frequent exchanges of fireplace with Iran-backed Hezbollah throughout Israel’s border with Lebanon and a surge of lethal violence within the occupied West Financial institution.

A Lebanese soldier was killed by Israeli hearth on a navy put up close to the nation’s southern border Tuesday, the military mentioned.

Within the West Financial institution, Israeli troops raided the northern Faraa refugee camp early Wednesday, sparking clashes that killed two folks, certainly one of them aged 16, Palestinian information company Wafa reported.

In keeping with Palestinian authorities, in the course of the Israeli-Hamas battle in Gaza, greater than 250 Palestinians have been killed within the West Financial institution, which Israel has occupied since 1967, by Israeli hearth or in settler assaults.