Rafah, Gaza Strip (AFP) – Hamas has begun to reappear in areas that witnessed clashes. Israel withdrew the bulk of its forces A month ago, Hamas deployed police officers and paid partial salaries to some civil servants in Gaza City in recent days, four residents and a senior Hamas official said Saturday.
Indications of Hamas' re-emergence in the largest city in Gaza confirm the movement's steadfastness despite this The deadly Israeli air and ground campaign During the past four months. Israel has said it is determined to crush Hamas and prevent it from returning to power in Gaza, the enclave it has ruled since 2007.
In recent days, Israeli forces renewed their strikes in the western and northwestern parts of Gaza City, including areas where some salaries were reportedly distributed.
Four Gaza City residents told The Associated Press that in recent days, uniformed and plainclothes police officers have deployed near police headquarters and other government offices, including near Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Strip. Residents said they saw the return of civil servants and subsequent Israeli air strikes near the temporary offices.
The return of police represents an attempt to restore order in the devastated city after Israel withdrew a large number of its forces from northern Gaza last month, a Hamas official told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The official said the group's leaders gave directions to re-impose order in parts of the north where Israeli forces had withdrawn, including by helping to prevent the looting of stores and homes abandoned by residents who responded to repeated Israeli evacuation orders and headed to the southern half of the city. Gaza.
During the Israeli ground attack. Many houses and buildings were left half-standing or reduced to piles of scrapAnd rubble and dust.
Saeed Abdel-Barr, a resident of Gaza City, said his cousin received money from a temporary Hamas office near the hospital that was set up to distribute $200 to government employees, including police officers and municipal workers.
Since taking control of Gaza nearly 17 years ago, Hamas has been active Government bureaucracy With tens of thousands of civil servants, including teachers, traffic policemen and civilian police working separately from the group's secret military wing.
Paying partial salaries of $200 to at least some government employees suggests that Israel has not dealt a fatal blow to Hamas, even as it claims to have killed more people. More than 9,000 Hamas fighters.
Ahmed Abu Hadros, a Gaza City resident, said Israeli warplanes bombed the area where the temporary office is located several times earlier this week, including on Saturday morning.
These strikes come about a month after Israeli military leaders announced that they had dismantled the command structure of Hamas brigades in the north, but individual fighters continue to carry out guerrilla-style attacks.
Meanwhile, fighting continued in southern Gaza on Saturday.
The organization said that at least 11 people were injured when the Israeli army fired smoke bombs at displaced people taking shelter at the headquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent in the city of Khan Yunis, in the south of the country. It did not provide details, and the Israeli army had no immediate comment.
The organization said that the injuries came after a siege imposed by the Israeli army on Red Crescent facilities for 12 days.
The charity also said it documented the killing of 43 people, including three employees, inside buildings by Israeli fire during those 12 days. It added that 153 others were injured.
At least 17 people, including women and children, were killed in two separate air strikes overnight in the city of Rafah in the far south of the Gaza Strip, on the border with Egypt, according to the registration office at the hospital where the bodies were taken.
The first strike hit a residential building east of Rafah, killing at least 13 members of the Hijazi family. Hospital officials said that among the dead were four women and three children. The second strike hit a house in the El Geneina area of Rafah, killing at least two men and two women from the Homs family.
One of his relatives, Ahmed Hegazy, said: “There are still two children under the rubble, and we know nothing about them.”
The 17 bodies were taken to Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital, Rafah's main health facility, and were viewed by an AP journalist.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said on Saturday that 107 people were killed during the past 24-hour period, bringing the total wartime death toll to 27,238. More than 66 thousand people were injured.
More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people have taken refuge in Rafah and its surrounding areas. A UN official said on Friday that Rafah had become a “pressure cooker of despair.”
The Israeli Defense Minister warned earlier this week that Israel may expand the scope of its fighting to include Rafah after focusing over the past few weeks on Khan Yunis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip. While this statement alarmed international relief officials and diplomats, Israel will do so Risking significant disruption to strategic relationships With the United States and Egypt if it sends forces to Rafah.
International mediators continue to work to bridge the wide gaps between Israel and Hamas regarding the proposal Ceasefire agreement It was introduced this week, nearly four months since Hamas and other militants captured about 250 hostages during their operations. The deadly October 7 attack On southern Israel, which sparked the war.
Hamas continues to hold dozens of prisoners, after releasing more than 100 of them during a week-long truce in November. They were released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
The conflict has settled Wide spaces From the small coastal enclave, it displaced 85% of its population and A quarter of the population was driven to starvation.
Meanwhile, the United States — which negotiated the deal's tenants alongside Israel, Egypt and Qatar — launched an air attack on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by the group. Iran-backed militias And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard late Friday, in the first retaliation operations A drone strike killed three American soldiers In Jordan last weekend.
Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Jamie Keaton in Geneva contributed to this report.
Follow AP's coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas on https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war
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