Israel intensifies its assault on southern Gaza, inflicting renewed concern about civilian deaths

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israel pounded targets within the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, intensifying a renewed offensive that adopted a weeklong truce with Hamas and giving rise to renewed considerations about civilian casualties.

At least 178 Palestinians have been killed for the reason that combating resumed Friday morning, even because the United States urged ally Israel to do every little thing potential to guard civilians.

“This is going to be very important going forward,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Friday after conferences with Arab overseas ministers in Dubai, wrapping up his third Middle East tour for the reason that struggle began. “It’s something we’re going to be looking at very closely.”

Israel‘s assaults Saturday had been centered on the Khan Younis space in southern Gaza, the place the navy dropped leaflets the day earlier than warning residents to depart.

As of late Friday, nevertheless, there had been no reviews of enormous numbers of individuals leaving, in response to the United Nations.

“There is no place to go,” lamented Emad Hajar, who fled along with his spouse and three kids from the northern city of Beit Lahia a month in the past to hunt refuge in Khan Younis.

PHOTOS: Israel intensifies its assault on southern Gaza, inflicting renewed concern about civilian deaths

“They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south.”

Some 2 million folks – virtually Gaza‘s entire population – are crammed into the territory’s south, the place Israel urged folks to relocate on the struggle’s begin and has since vowed to increase its floor assault. Unable to enter north Gaza or neighboring Egypt, their solely escape is to maneuver round inside the 220-square-kilometer (85-square-mile) space.

In response to U.S. calls to guard civilians, the Israeli navy launched a web based map, but it surely has achieved extra to confuse than to assist.

It divides the Gaza Strip into tons of of numbered, haphazardly drawn parcels, generally throughout roads or blocks, and asks residents to be taught the variety of their location in case of an eventual evacuation.

“The publication does not specify where people should evacuate to,” the U.N. workplace for coordinating humanitarian points within the Palestinian territory famous in its each day report. “It is unclear how those residing in Gaza would access the map without electricity and amid recurrent telecommunications cuts.”

Egypt has expressed considerations the renewed offensive might trigger Palestinians to try to cross into its territory. In an announcement late Friday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry stated the compelled switch of Palestinians “is a red line.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in Dubai on Saturday for the COP28 local weather convention, was anticipated to stipulate proposals with regional leaders to “put Palestinian voices at the center” of planning the following steps for the Gaza Strip after the battle, in response to the White House. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has been emphasizing the necessity for an eventual two-state answer, with Israel and a Palestinian state coexisting.

The renewed hostilities have additionally heightened considerations for 136 hostages who, in response to the Israeli navy, are nonetheless held captive by Hamas and different militants after 105 had been freed in the course of the truce. For households of remaining hostages, the truce’s collapse was a blow to hopes their family members may very well be the following out after days of seeing others freed. The Israeli military stated Friday it had confirmed the deaths of 4 extra hostages, bringing the overall identified useless to seven.

During the truce, Israel freed 240 Palestinians from its prisons. Most of these launched from either side had been ladies and kids.

The struggle started after the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas and different militants, who killed about 1,200 folks, largely civilians, in southern Israel and took round 240 folks captive.

After the top of the truce, militants in Gaza resumed firing rockets into Israel, and combating broke out between Israel and Hezbollah militants working alongside its northern border with Lebanon.

Hundreds of 1000’s of individuals fled northern Gaza to Khan Younis and different elements of the south earlier within the struggle, a part of a rare mass exodus that has left three-quarters of the inhabitants displaced and dealing with widespread shortages of meals, water and different provides.

Since the resumption of hostilities, no support convoys or gas deliveries have entered Gaza, and humanitarian operations inside Gaza have largely halted, in response to the U.N.

The International Rescue Committee, an support group working in Gaza, warned the return of combating will “wipe out even the minimal relief” offered by the truce and “prove catastrophic for Palestinian civilians.”

Up till the truce started, greater than 13,300 Palestinians had been killed in Israel’s assault, roughly two-thirds of them ladies and minors, in response to the Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants.

The toll is probably going a lot greater, as officers have solely sporadically up to date the depend since Nov. 11. The ministry says 1000’s extra individuals are feared useless beneath the rubble.

Israel says it’s concentrating on Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of working in residential neighborhoods. Israel says 77 of its troopers have been killed within the floor offensive in northern Gaza. It claims to have killed 1000’s of militants, with out offering proof.

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