The Israeli offensive moves into the crowded southern Gaza Strip, leading to a rising death toll despite evacuation orders

KHAN YOUNIS (Gaza Strip) — Israel bombed targets in the crowded southern half of the Gaza Strip on Saturday and ordered the evacuation of more neighborhoods earmarked for the attack, sending the death toll soaring even as the United States and others urged it to do more. To protect civilians in Gaza a day after the collapse of the truce.

At least 200 Palestinians have been killed since then The fighting resumed on Friday morning After a week-long truce with the ruling Hamas movement in the Strip, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Several homes were bombed across Gaza on Saturday, with several casualties reported in a strike that destroyed a house on the outskirts of Gaza City.

Separately, the ministry announced the total death toll in Gaza since the beginning of October 7 Israel-Hamas war The number exceeded 15,200, a sharp jump from the previous number of more than 13,300 on November 20. The ministry stopped issuing daily updates of the total number of casualties on November 11, after communications and hospital operations were cut off due to the war.

The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and fighters, but it said on Saturday that 70% of the dead were women and children. She added that more than 40,000 people have been injured since the beginning of the war.

With the end of the truce, the United States, its closest ally, urged Israel to do more to protect Palestinian civilians.

This appeal came after the violent air and ground attack in the first weeks of the war destroyed large areas in northern Gaza, killing thousands of Palestinians and displacing hundreds of thousands. About two million Palestinians, almost the entire population of Gaza, now live crammed into the southern half of the Strip.

It was not clear whether the Israeli army would respond to calls to rescue civilians. The army said on Saturday that it had struck more than 400 Hamas targets across Gaza over the past day, using air strikes and shelling by tanks and naval helicopters. It included more than 50 raids on the city of Khan Yunis and its surrounding areas in the southern half of the Gaza Strip.

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At least nine people, including three children, were killed in an air strike on a house in the city of Deir al-Balah in the south of the country, according to the hospital to which the bodies were transferred. The hospital also received the bodies of seven other people killed in overnight air strikes, including two children.

In northern Gaza, an air strike destroyed a residential building hosting displaced families in the Jabalia refugee camp located on the outskirts of Gaza City. Residents Hamza Obaid and Amal Radwan said that the raid on the multi-storey building left dozens dead and wounded.

Obaid said: “There was a loud sound, then the building turned into a pile of rubble.”

On the other hand, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza said they fired a barrage of rockets at southern Israel. Sirens were heard in towns near the Gaza Strip, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

In the clearest sign yet that a return to negotiations for a more truce is unlikely, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed negotiators to return to Israel.

As fighting resumed, the Israeli military published a map online dividing the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered plots of land, and asked residents to identify the number of their locations before evacuation warnings.

On Saturday, the army used the map for the first time, listing more than two dozen plot numbers in the areas surrounding Gaza City to the north and east of Khan Yunis. Separately, the army dropped leaflets containing evacuation orders on towns east of Khan Yunis.

A resident of Khan Yunis said that a neighbor received a phone call from the Israeli army warning that homes in the area were being bombed and everyone should leave. One resident, Hikmat Al-Qudra, said: “We told them: We have nothing here, why do you want to hit him?” They eventually left, and Al-Qudra said the house was destroyed.

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Maps and leaflets sparked panic and confusion, especially in the crowded south. Unable to go to northern Gaza or neighboring Egypt, their only recourse is to move within an area of ​​220 square kilometers (85 square miles).

“There is nowhere to go,” said Imad Hajar, who fled the north with his wife and three children a month ago to Khan Yunis. “they They expelled us from the northNow they are pushing us to leave the south.”

Amal Radwan, who took refuge in Jabalia refugee camp, said she was not aware of the existence of such a map, adding that she and many other people were unable to leave due to the ongoing bombing. “Here is death and there is death,” she said.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas activists It blames civilian casualties on militants and accuses them of operating in residential neighborhoods. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says that 77 of its soldiers were killed in the ground attack on the northern Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Red Crescent also said on Saturday that it received aid trucks through the Rafah crossing, the first convoy since the resumption of fighting. Wael Abu Omar, spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority, said that 50 trucks were scheduled to enter Gaza, but none of them were fuel trucks.

“The current conditions do not allow for a meaningful humanitarian response, and I fear this will lead to a catastrophe for the civilian population,” Pascal Hunte, responsible for the International Committee of the Red Cross’s operations in Gaza, said in a statement.

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Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in Dubai on Saturday For the COP28 climate conferenceHe said in a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi that the United States would not allow “under any circumstances” the forced transfer of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the siege of Gaza, or the redrawing of its borders, according to the US summary of the meeting.

Harris was expected to outline proposals with regional leaders to “put Palestinian voices at the center” of planning the next steps for the Gaza Strip after the conflict, according to the White House. President Joe Biden’s administration has stressed the need for an eventual two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state coexisting.

the October 7 attack By Hamas and other militants About 1,200 people were killedMost of them were civilians in southern Israel, and about 240 people were captured.

The intensity of renewed hostilities escalated Concerns about 136 hostages Who, according to the Israeli army, are still being held by Hamas and other militants after 105 of them were released During the truce.

For the families of the remaining hostages, the collapse of the truce was a blow to hopes that their loved ones would be the ones to emerge next. A 70-year-old woman held by Hamas was declared dead on Saturday, according to the kibbutz where she lived, bringing the total number of known hostages dead to eight.

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

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Magdy reported from Cairo and Rasing reported from Bangkok. Associated Press writer Julia Frankel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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