May 23, 2024

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Israel strikes Khan Yunis in a new bloody phase of the war against Hamas

Israel strikes Khan Yunis in a new bloody phase of the war against Hamas

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel intensified its bombardment on and around the second-largest city in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning, sending ambulances and private cars rushing to a local hospital to transport the wounded in the Gaza Strip. A new bloody stage From the war.

Under US pressure to prevent further casualties in the conflict with Hamas, Israel says it has become more precise as it expands its assault on southern Gaza after wiping out much of the north – but Palestinians say there are no areas where they feel safe, and many fear they will If they leave their homes they will They are not allowed to return.

Aerial bombardment and ground assault have displaced three-quarters of the Strip’s 2.3 million people from their homes – and new orders to evacuate areas around Khan Yunis are putting pressure on people Smaller areas than ever before It’s a really small coastal strip.

At Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, ambulances transported dozens of wounded, including a young boy wearing a blood-stained shirt whose hand had been amputated.

“What is happening here is unimaginable,” said Hamza al-Barash, who lives in the Ma’an neighborhood, one of several neighborhoods in and around the city that Israel has ordered civilians to leave. “They strike randomly.”

Residents said that the forces advanced after intense air strikes on the town of Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Yunis. Halima Abdel Rahman, who fled to the town earlier in the war from her home in the north, said they could hear explosions all night.

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“They are very close,” she said. “It’s the same scenario we saw in the north.”

Satellite images on Sunday showed about 150 Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles less than 6 kilometers (4 miles) north of the city’s heart.

Fewer places to go

Israel ordered A comprehensive evacuation of the population of northern Gaza In the early days of the war, people who left were prevented from returning. In the south, it ordered people to leave about twenty neighborhoods in and around Khan Yunis. This has reduced the area where civilians can seek refuge in central and southern Gaza by more than a quarter.

“There is no safe place in Gaza, and there is nowhere to go anymore,” Lyn Hastings, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories, said on Monday. “The conditions required to deliver aid to the people of Gaza do not exist. If that were possible, an even more hellish scenario was about to unfold.

Israel says it must dismantle Hamas’ extensive military infrastructure and remove it from power in order to prevent a repeat of the October 7 attack that sparked the war. A surprise attack across the border fence led to Hamas and other Palestinian militants killing about 1,200 people, most of them civilians. He captured about 240 men, women and children.

The army says it is doing its best to spare civilians and accuses Hamas of using them as human shields while the militants fight in densely populated areas, where there are mazes of tunnels, bunkers, rocket launchers and sniper nests.

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Hamas is Deeply rooted in Palestinian societyIts determination to end decades of Israeli military rule open to millions of Palestinians is shared by the vast majority, even those who oppose its ultimate goal of Israel’s ultimate destruction and its attacks on civilians. This would complicate any effort to eliminate Hamas without causing significant human casualties and further displacement.

Even after weeks of continuous bombing. The prominent leader of the Hamas movement in Gaza, Yahya Al-SinwarIt was able to conduct complex ceasefire negotiations and organize the release of more than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners last week. Palestinian militants also continued to fire rockets at Israel, before and after the truce.

An unprecedented toll

At the same time, the fighting has caused unprecedented death and destruction to the coastal strip.

Ministry of Health in Gaza He said that the death toll in the region since October 7 had exceeded 15,890 people – 70% of whom were women and children – in addition to more than 42,000 wounded. The Ministry does not differentiate between deaths between civilians and combatants. It says hundreds have been killed or wounded since the ceasefire ended, and many are still trapped under the rubble.

An Israeli army official provided a similar figure for the death toll in Gaza on Monday, after weeks during which Israeli officials questioned the ministry’s tally. The official said that at least 15,000 people were killed, including 5,000 militants, without explaining how the army arrived at these numbers. The army says that 86 of its soldiers were killed in the attack on Gaza.

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White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that it was too early to pass judgment on Israeli operations, but that it was unusual for a modern military to designate specific areas for expected ground maneuvers and ask people to get out, as Israel did in 2016. Khan Yunis.

“These are the steps we asked them to take,” he added.

Leaflets dropped by the Israeli military on Khan Yunis in recent days warn people against heading south towards the border with Egypt, but they are unable to leave Gaza, as both Israel and And neighboring Egypt They refused to accept any refugees.

The United Nations said that the area that Israel ordered to evacuate was home to about 117,000 people, and it now houses more than 50,000 displaced people from the north, living in 21 shelters. The number of those who fled was not known.

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Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

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Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.