Israel-Hamas war: Israeli bombing of Gaza intensifies as truce comes to an end

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The latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war.

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Israel has struck targets in the southern Gaza Strip, stepping up a renewed offensive that followed a week-long truce with Hamas and raising renewed concerns about civilian casualties.

At least 200 Palestinians have been killed since fighting resumed on Friday morning, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, even as the United States urged ally Israel to do all it can to protect civilians.

“It will be very important going forward,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday after meetings with Arab foreign ministers in Dubai, concluding his third tour of the Middle East since the war began. looking very closely.

Many of Israel’s attacks on Saturday were concentrated in the Khan Younis area of ​​southern Gaza, where the army said it hit more than 50 Hamas targets with airstrikes, tank fire and its navy.

Leaflets fall, but Gazans have nowhere to go

The IDF distributed leaflets warning residents to leave on Friday but, as of Friday evening, there had been no reports of large numbers of people leaving, according to the United Nations.

“There is nowhere to go,” complained Emad Hajar, who fled the northern city of Beit Lahia with his wife and three children a month ago to seek refuge in Khan Younis.

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

The Israeli military said it also carried out strikes in the north and hit more than 400 targets across the Gaza Strip.

Around 2 million people – almost the entire population of Gaza – are currently crammed into the south of the territory, where Israel invited people to move at the start of the war.

Unable to go to northern Gaza or neighboring Egypt, their only escape route is to move within an area of ​​220 square kilometers.

UN criticizes IDF evacuation “plan”.

In response to US calls to protect civilians, the Israeli army posted a map online, but it did more to confuse than help.

It divides the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered, haphazardly drawn lots, sometimes across streets or blocks, and asks residents to know their location number in case of possible evacuation.

“The publication does not specify where people should evacuate,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Territory noted in its daily report. “It is unclear how those residing in Gaza would be able to access the map without electricity and amid recurring telecommunications cuts.”

Egypt has expressed concern that the renewed offensive could prompt Palestinians to try to enter its territory. In a statement on Friday evening, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the forced relocation of Palestinians “is a red line.”

US Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in Dubai on Saturday for the COP28 climate conference, was expected to outline proposals with regional leaders to “put Palestinian voices at the centre” in planning the next steps for the Gaza Strip after the conflict, according to what was reported. the White House. The administration of American President Joe Biden has underlined the need for a possible two-state solution, with the coexistence of Israel and a Palestinian state.

What will happen to the remaining hostages?

The resumption of hostilities has also heightened concerns about the 136 hostages who the Israeli army says are still held captive by Hamas and other militants after 105 were freed during the truce. For the families of the remaining hostages, the collapse of the truce was a blow to hopes that their loved ones might be the next to leave after watching others freed for days.

The Israeli military said on Friday it had confirmed the deaths of four more hostages, bringing the total number of confirmed victims to seven.

During the truce, Israel released 240 Palestinians from its prisons. Most of the people released by both sides were women and children.

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Stop humanitarian aid

Hundreds of thousands of people fled northern Gaza for Khan Younis and other parts of the south at the start of the war, part of an extraordinary mass exodus that left three-quarters of the population displaced and facing widespread shortages of food, water and other supplies.

Since the resumption of hostilities, no aid convoys or fuel deliveries have entered Gaza, according to the United Nations, and humanitarian operations inside Gaza have largely stopped.

The International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian group operating in Gaza, warned that the resumption of fighting “will erase even the slightest relief” provided by the truce and “prove catastrophic for Palestinian civilians.”

Since the truce began, more than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli onslaught, about two-thirds of them women and minors, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which makes no distinction between civilians and fighters.

The toll is likely much higher, as officials have only updated the count sporadically since Nov. 11.

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The ministry says thousands more people are feared dead under the rubble.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas operatives and places blame for civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighborhoods. Israel says 77 of its soldiers have been killed in the ground offensive in northern Gaza. He claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence.

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