Hatem Ali Associated Press Palestinians search for survivors in the rubble of a Rafah building hit by Israel.
Najib Jobain – The Canadian Press, , Lee Keath – Associated Press Respectively to Khān Yūnis and to Cairo
- Middle East
A series of Israeli airstrikes on a refugee camp near Gaza City flattened apartment buildings Tuesday, leaving only craters, as ground troops battled Hamas militants in northern Gaza and attacked underground complexes.
The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said at least six airstrikes had destroyed a number of buildings in Jabaliya, and it reported a large number of casualties, but did not immediately provided details.
The Israeli army said on Tuesday that it had carried out a large-scale strike in Jabaliya against Hamas infrastructure, “which had occupied civilian buildings”, and that tunnels under the buildings had collapsed. The army said the strikes killed a large number of Hamas militants, including Ibrahim Biari, who the Israelis said was overseeing operations in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Israel said two of its soldiers were killed in fighting in northern Gaza, the first military deaths reported since accelerating the ground offensive in the small Mediterranean territory late last week.
With several hundred thousand Palestinians still in the northern part of Gaza, Israeli troops and tanks are reportedly advancing on several fronts of Gaza City's sprawling urban center.
Casualties are expected to mount on both sides as the battle moves into dense residential neighborhoods, although overwhelmed hospitals in the north warn they are on the verge of collapse, with supplies largely cut off and strikes in their vicinity.
Again, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls for a ceasefire and vowed to crush Hamas' ability to rule Gaza or threaten Israel , after the bloody massacre of October 7, which started this war.
In the Jabaliya refugee camp, a densely built-up area of small streets on the outskirts of Gaza City, footage of the scene broadcast on Al-Jazeera television showed at least four large craters where where buildings once stood, in the middle of a large strip of rubble surrounded by partially collapsed debris.
Dozens of rescuers and bystanders searched the rubble for survivors beneath the crushed buildings. Young men carried the limp forms of two children from the upper floors of the ruined frame of a damaged building, while helping another child and a woman down. It is unclear whether the children were alive or dead.
Release of hostages considered
Also Tuesday, the Israeli army said that the Ground troops had taken control of a Hamas military stronghold west of Jabaliya, killing 50 militants.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem denied the army's comments, saying it was trying to justify “its heinous crime” against civilians.
More than 8,500 Palestinians have been killed in the war, mostly women and minors, Gaza's health ministry said Tuesday, without providing a breakdown between civilians and combatants. This figure is unprecedented in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
More than 1,400 people died on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed on October 7 during the first Hamas attack — also an unprecedented figure. Palestinian militants also kidnapped around 240 people during their incursion and continued to fire rockets into Israel.
A day after Israel's first successful rescue of a captive held by Hamas, the spokesman for the Islamist group's military wing said they planned to release some non-Israeli hostages in the coming days. Hamas previously freed four hostages and said it would let the others go in exchange for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, which rejected the offer.
More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, with hundreds of thousands taking refuge in crowded UN-run schools turned into shelters or in hospitals alongside thousands of injured patients.
The war also threatens to spread, triggering fighting on other fronts. Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah exchange fire daily along the border, and Israel and the United States have struck targets in Syria linked to Iran, which supports Hamas, Hezbollah and other armed groups in the region.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed to have fired ballistic missiles and drones into Israel, saying it was their third such operation and threatening more. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli-Palestinian violence has also increased.
Order to evacuate hospitals
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has continued to worsen. The World Health Organization said two hospitals were damaged and an ambulance destroyed in Gaza over the past two days. It says all 13 hospitals operating in the north have received Israeli evacuation orders in recent days. Doctors refused, saying it would amount to a death sentence for patients on life support.
Gaza City's Shifa hospital, the largest in the territory, is on the verge of failure of fuel, said the Ministry of Health.
There has been no electricity in Gaza for weeks, and Israel has barred the entry of fuel needed to power generators in hospitals and homes, saying it wants to prevent it from falling into the hands of Hamas. /p>
Israel has allowed a limited amount of food, water, medicine and other resources to enter from Egypt, but that supply falls far short of what is needed, aid organizations say. A convoy of 59 humanitarian trucks – the largest to date – entered the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt on Tuesday, bringing the total number of vehicles entered since October 22 to 216, according to Wael Abu Omar, Hamas spokesperson for the passage.
The United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) says 64 of its employees have been killed since the start of the war, including one man killed with his wife and eight children in a strike Monday evening.
“This is the highest ever number of UN aid workers killed in conflict around the world in such a short time time,” spokeswoman Juliette Touma told The Associated Press. “UNRWA will never be the same without these colleagues. »
Some 800,000 people obeyed Israeli army orders to flee the northern part of the Gaza Strip to the south, according to Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesman. Before the war, northern Gaza was estimated to have a population of around 1.1 million.
With Wafaa Shurafa in Deir al-Balah, Samy Magdy in Cairo and Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut