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Israeli operations focus on Gaza and Rafah

Photo: Eyad Baba Agence France-Presse A child looks out the window in Khan Younes, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip once again targeted by Israeli strikes.

France Media Agency in the Gaza Strip

Posted at 1:42 p.m.

  • Middle East

The Israeli army focused its operations against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on the cities of Gaza and Rafah on Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing it as a “difficult fight.”

Nearly nine months into the war, which began with an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7, Netanyahu says he wants to continue it until the Palestinian movement in Gaza is eliminated and all hostages taken during the attack are released.

This war, which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged and devastated Palestinian territory, has also raised fears of a conflict between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah after a surge in attacks on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border.

In the past 24 hours, 43 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, the Health Ministry of the Hamas government which took power in the Palestinian territory in 2007 said on Sunday.

According to witnesses, numerous Israeli airstrikes targeted Gaza City in the north, as well as Rafah and Khan Younes in the south.

While the army announced in January that it had dismantled the Hamas command structure in the north of the territory, its soldiers launched an operation on Thursday in Choujaiya, a district of Gaza City, under air cover and artillery. Bombing and fighting continued on Sunday for the 4th consecutive day.

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“People are trapped”

“People are trapped in their homes in Shujaiya. It is difficult to leave the neighborhood under the bombing,” testified Siham Al-Shawa, 50. “Our life has become hell, we don't know where to go to protect ourselves, they are bombing everywhere. »

The army announced that it had “eliminated several terrorists, discovered weapons” and “hit dozens of terrorist infrastructures” in Shujaiya.

Between 60,000 and 80,000 people, according to the UN, fled the east and northeast of Gaza City following the evacuation order given by the army on Thursday.

In southern Gaza, Israeli soldiers launched a ground offensive on May 7 in the town of Rafah, then presented by Israel as the last major stronghold of Hamas.

Six people were killed in a strike that hit a house in Rafah and artillery fire rocked parts of the city, according to witnesses and medics.

“Fighting underground”

“Our forces are in operation in Rafah, Choujaiya, everywhere in the strip Gaza,” Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly government meeting on Sunday, a week after asserting that “the intense phase” of the war was coming to an end.

“Dozens of terrorists are eliminated every day. It is a difficult fight that we are waging on the ground, sometimes hand-to-hand, and also underground,” he said, referring to the tunnels dug underground by Hamas during its years in power.

The attack carried out by Hamas on October 7 in southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count compiled from official Israeli data. Of 251 people kidnapped during the attack, 116 are still being held hostage in Gaza, among whom 42 are dead, according to the army.

In retaliation, Israel promised to destroy Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization, as well as the United States and the European Union.

Its massive offensive on the small Palestinian territory has so far killed 37,877 people, mostly civilians, according to data from the Hamas-led Gaza government's health ministry.

Attacks by Israel and Hezbollah

The war has caused massive population displacement in the territory, where some 2.4 million people are besieged in conditions the UN has described as “dire.”

Humanitarian aid is trickling in, and food and water are in short supply. Thousands of children are suffering from malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which in mid-June reported “32 deaths attributed to malnutrition, including 28 among children under five.”

Fears that the conflict will spread to Lebanon have recently grown.

On June 19, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, a powerful Hamas-allied and Iran-backed movement, warned “no place” in Israel would be spared in the event of war, after the military claimed having “validated” “operational plans” for an offensive in Lebanon.

On Sunday, Hezbollah claimed new attacks against Israeli military positions on the border, while a Lebanese media reported Israeli bombings on southern Lebanon.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116