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Israeli forces raze parts of Gaza’s Jabalia, hit Rafah with airstrikes

REUTERS/AMIR COHEN
                                An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, today.
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REUTERS/AMIR COHEN

An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, today.

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Israeli forces push deeper into northern Gaza

Israeli forces thrust deeper into Jabalia in northern Gaza today, striking a hospital and destroying residential areas with tank and air bombardments, residents said, while Israeli airstrikes killed at least five people in Rafah in the south.

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on the northern and southern edges of the Gaza Strip this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes, and sharply restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

In Jabalia, a sprawling refugee camp built for displaced civilians 75 years ago, the Israeli army used bulldozers to clear shops and property near the local market, residents said, in a military operation that began almost two weeks ago.

Israel said it has returned to the camp, where it had claimed to have dismantled Hamas months ago, to prevent the militant group that controls Gaza from regrouping.

In a roundup of its activity over the past day, the Israeli military said it had dismantled “about 70 terror targets” throughout the Gaza Strip, including military compounds, weapon storage sites, missile launchers and observation posts.

Palestinian medics said Israeli missiles struck the emergency department of Jabalia’s Kamal Adwan Hospital, prompting panicked staff to rush patients on hospital beds and stretchers to the rubble-strewn street outside.

“The first missile when it hit, it hit the entrance of the emergency department. We tried to enter, and then a second missile hit, and the third hit the building nearby,” said Hussam Abu Safia, the head of hospital.

“We cannot go back inside to them … The emergency department provides a service for children, the elderly and people inside the departments of the hospital.”

Residents and medics said Israeli tanks were besieging another Jabalia hospital, Al-Awda Hospital, for the third day. In Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said northern Gaza’s sick and wounded were running out of options.

“These are the only two functional hospitals remaining in northern Gaza,” Tedros said. “Ensuring their ability to deliver health services is imperative.”

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war in Gaza, which is now in its eighth month, according to the Gaza health ministry. At least 10,000 others are missing and believed to be trapped under destroyed buildings, it says.

Israel is seeking to eradicate Hamas after militants from the group stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 and taking more than 250 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

The war has devastated the overcrowded coastal enclave, destroying houses, schools and hospitals and creating a dire humanitarian crisis.

Aid from a U.S.-built pier resumed moving into warehouses in Gaza today using alternative routes, the Pentagon said. The distribution was halted for three days after crowds of needy residents intercepted trucks.

AIRSTRIKES

In the south, airstrikes killed three children in a house in Khan Younis and at least five people including three children in a home in Rafah, health officials said.

East of Khan Younis, residents said they were fleeing Khuzaa town after Israeli troops began an incursion on the eastern edge of the territory, bulldozing across the border fence.

“Bombing everywhere, people are leaving in panic. It was a surprising incursion,” one resident from Khuzaa told Reuters by phone as he and his family were leaving.

Israel is pushing on with its operations in Rafah on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, where more than half of the territory’s 2.3 million population had sought refuge after being displaced from areas further north.

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency in Gaza, estimated as of Monday that more 800,000 had fled since Israel began targeting the city in early May, despite international pleas for restraint over concern about civilian casualties.

The agency said food distributions had been suspended today in Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity.

Israel has pledged to continue with the Rafah assault to root out what it says are four remaining battalions of Hamas fighters holed up there. Tanks made incursions into the eastern Rafah suburbs of Jeneina, Al-Salam, and Brazil, according to residents.

The Israeli military said over the past day it had “identified a terrorist shooting mortar shells at IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) troops,” though no injuries were reported. It said it had taken out the enemy with an airstrike and had located rockets and additional military equipment in the area.

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