Occupation tanks arrive in the center of the city of Khan Yunis in a new incursion into southern Gaza

  • The latest developments:
  • Residents of northern Gaza reported some of the heaviest fighting of the war so far
  • Jordan says Israel aims to expel the Palestinians from Gaza

GAZA/CAIRO (Reuters) – Israeli tanks made their way into the city center of Khan Yunis on Sunday in a new major incursion into the heart of the main city in the southern Gaza Strip, which is home to hundreds of thousands of civilians who have fled the Strip. Other parts of the pocket.

Residents said that the tanks reached the main road linking north and south through the city center of Khan Yunis after intense fighting throughout the night that slowed the Israeli advance from the east. Warplanes bombed the area west of the attack.

The air was shaking from the constant sound of explosions and thick columns of white smoke rose above the city. As morning came near a police station in the city center, the sound of automatic weapons fire could be heard. The streets were deserted except for an old woman and a girl riding a donkey cart.

A father of four children who was displaced from Gaza City and is taking refuge in Khan Yunis told Reuters, “It was one of the most horrific nights. The resistance was very strong and we could hear gunshots and explosions that did not stop for hours.” He refused to reveal his identity for fear of retaliation.

He added, “In Khan Yunis, tanks reached Gamal Abdel Nasser Street in the city center, and snipers were stationed on buildings in the area.”

On the other side of the Gaza Strip, in northern areas where Israel previously said its forces had largely completed their missions, residents also described some of the heaviest fighting of the war so far.

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Israeli forces are penetrating into the activists’ strongholds and are facing fierce resistance in Jabalia and the Shujaiya area in Gaza City, areas that are still populated despite orders issued weeks ago to evacuate the entire north.

“I dare say it is the strongest battle we have heard in weeks,” said Nasser (59 years old), a father of seven who lives in Jabalia after his home in Beit Lahia, another northern area, was destroyed. Explosions were heard as he spoke. “We will not leave Jabalia no matter what. We will die here as martyrs or they will leave us alone.”

Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, after the militants stormed the fence on October 7 and unleashed violence across Israeli towns, gunning down families in their homes, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostage.

Since then, Gaza health authorities say at least 17,700 people have been confirmed killed in Israeli raids, with thousands more missing and presumed dead under the rubble. The toll no longer includes numbers from the northern parts of the Strip, which are beyond the reach of ambulances and where hospitals have stopped working.

Who is alive?

After weeks of fighting concentrated in the north, Israel launched its ground attack in the south this week with an attack on Khan Yunis. With fighting now continuing along almost the entire length of the Gaza Strip, international relief organizations say the enclave’s 2.3 million residents are left with nowhere to hide.

At the site of a house in Khan Yunis that was destroyed by bombing during the night, relatives of the dead were combing through the rubble in a dazed state. They pulled the body of a middle-aged man wearing a yellow shirt from under the building.

Ahmed Abdel Wahab said: “We prayed the night prayer and slept, then we woke up to find the house above us. ‘Who is alive?!’”

“Three floors above it collapsed and people were below it,” he said. “My mother and father, my sister and brother, all my cousins.”

The main hospital in Khan Yunis, Nasser Hospital, was overrun with dead and wounded. On Sunday, there was no room left in the emergency department as people carried more wounded people wrapped in blankets and carpets. Muhammad Abu Shihab cried and swore to avenge his son, who he said was killed by an Israeli sniper.

The Israeli army said that it bombed underground tunnel passages in Khan Yunis and attacked a group of Palestinian militants who were preparing an ambush, but it did not mention anything about any tank advance.

The vast majority of Gazans have now been forced from their homes, many having fled multiple times with only the possessions they could carry. Israel says it is doing what it can to protect civilians, but even the United States, its closest ally, says it has not kept those promises.

The Israeli blockade has cut off supplies, with the United Nations warning of widespread hunger and disease.

At an international conference in Doha, the capital of Qatar, which played the role of main mediator of a week-long truce that saw the release of more than 100 hostages, Arab foreign ministers criticized the United States for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution on Friday demanding humanitarian aid. cease-fire.

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Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani said that the war threatens to radicalize an entire generation in the Middle East. The Jordanian foreign minister said the Israeli campaign aimed to expel Palestinians from Gaza and met the legal definition of genocide, accusations Israel described as shameful.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “will not give up” his call for a ceasefire.

“I urged the Security Council to put pressure to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and repeated my call to declare a humanitarian ceasefire,” Guterres said. “Unfortunately, the Security Council failed to do so, but that does not lessen the necessity of doing so.”

Israel rejected demands to stop the fighting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a briefing to his government on Sunday that he told the leaders of France, Germany and other countries: “You cannot, on the one hand, support the elimination of Hamas, and on the other hand, pressure us to end the war, which would prevent us from doing so.” Eliminate Hamas.”

(Reporting by Bassam Masoud and Mohammed Salem in Gaza, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Cairo, and Dan Williams, Ari Rabinovitch, Emily Rose and Henriette Shekar in Jerusalem.) Writing by Peter Graff, editing by Katherine Evans and Nick Macfie

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A senior correspondent with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.

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