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Israel pressures Gaza cities, health officials say 18 die in airstrikes

2024.02.03 09:40

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© Reuters. View of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip November 6, 2023 in this handout satellite tv for pc picture. Maxar Technologies/Handout by way of REUTERS

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

DOHA/GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli airstrikes killed 18 Palestinians in the Gaza cities of Rafah and Deir Al-Balah, Gaza health officials mentioned on Saturday, as residents of the enclave feared Israel would broaden its floor offensive into these final remaining areas the place individuals have sought shelter.

Rafah is on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt and greater than half the enclave’s 2.3 million inhabitants have fled there because the Israel Defense Forces press their practically four-month-old battle towards the militant Hamas group.

Health officials in Gaza mentioned an Israeli airstrike on a home in Rafah killed 14 individuals together with ladies and kids, Gaza health officials mentioned.

There was no affirmation from the Israeli navy that it carried out the strike. A navy spokesperson mentioned: “In stark contrast to Hamas’ intentional attacks on Israeli men, women and children, the IDF follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.”

The months of intense Israeli bombardment, triggered by Hamas’ lethal assault on Israel on Oct. 7, has laid waste to Gaza and set off wider battle in the area. The United States launched airstrikes on Friday in Iraq and Syria towards targets linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the militias it backs, in retaliation for a lethal assault on U.S. troops.

Gaza health authorities, who don’t differentiate between militants and civilians in their tallies, say greater than 27,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed for the reason that begin of the battle, 107 of them in the previous 24 hours, with 1000’s extra feared misplaced amid the ruins.

Israel launched its battle on Hamas after the Oct. 7 onslaught by Hamas militants who killed 1,200 individuals and took 253 individuals hostage into Gaza, greater than 100 of whom are nonetheless captive, based on Israeli tallies.

Israeli officials say they intention to get rid of Hamas, which has vowed to repeat its October assaults, and repatriate the hostages, a lot of whom are ladies and kids.

TAKING REFUGE IN RAFAH

Tens of 1000’s of individuals have arrived in Rafah in current days carrying belongings in their arms and pulling kids on carts, since Israeli forces final week launched one in all their largest assaults of the battle to seize close by Khan Younis, the primary southern metropolis.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant mentioned on Thursday forces would now press on to Rafah.

“The place turned black, I couldn’t see what’s in front of me. It was all dust and dirt. I was touching my surroundings, I was looking for my mobile to use the flashlight to look for my children, where are they? I found them under the rubble,” mentioned Ahmed Bassam Al-Jamal, whose son was killed in Rafah.

“I cried for help and people came. I got out Yamen, the first one, he was the only one I can see, the rest were still under the rubble. They pulled out Yamen, Eileen and Sila and they pulled out their mother (all alive). We could not find Bassam, we were looking for him, but he was buried, we could not save them, I swear we couldn’t,” Jamal mentioned, as he bade farewell to his useless son on the hospital.

In Khan Younis, residents mentioned the military blew up a residential district close to the town centre.

In the close by metropolis of Deir Al-Balah, the second main focus of displaced individuals, medics mentioned 4 individuals have been killed in an airstrike on a home earlier on Saturday.

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN GAZA CITY

Although Israel is focusing its push in the south, residents and militants mentioned preventing continued in Gaza City.

Gaza health officials mentioned two individuals have been killed by sniper fireplace. Israeli forces carried out arrests in the southern suburb of Tel Al-Hawa.

The Israeli navy mentioned its forces killed dozens of Palestinian gunmen in northern Gaza.

“During targeted raids in the northern and central Gaza Strip over the last day, IDF troops killed dozens of terrorists and destroyed numerous anti-tank missile launchers,” the Israel Defense Forces mentioned.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and different smaller militant teams mentioned in a separate assertion their fighters engaged in fierce battles with the military in the north and the south of the enclave.

“The more the occupation forces remain on the ground, the more we will get to them,” one Palestinian militant official mentioned. “A martyr falls, another rises and takes the rifle, and we are ready to fight for many more months,” he informed Reuters.

Mediators are awaiting a response from Hamas to a proposal for the battle’s first prolonged ceasefire, drafted final week with Israeli and U.S. spy chiefs and communicated by Egypt and Qatar. It was unclear when Hamas leaders would go to Cairo to reply.

A short November truce lasted only one week, when militants freed 110 ladies, kids and international hostages in trade for Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

(Reporting and writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Doha; Additional reporting by Emily Rose in Jerusalem, Ibraheem Abu Mustafa in Gaza; Editing by Giles Elgood and Frances Kerry)

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