- The latest developments:
- Israel says three of its soldiers were killed in fighting in Gaza on Monday
- Israel is considering flooding Gaza’s tunnels with seawater to expel Hamas fighters – Wall Street Journal
GAZA (Reuters) – Israeli forces continued their aerial and ground bombardment of the southern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, despite the United States and the United Nations repeatedly urging them to protect civilians.
Asked on Monday about the rising death toll since the truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed on Friday, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, said it was too early to say whether Israel was doing enough to protect civilians and that it expected Israel not to bomb areas it bombs. It has been determined as safe.
Residents and journalists on the ground said that the intense Israeli air strikes in the south of the densely populated coastal enclave included areas where Israel asked people to seek shelter.
At the United Nations, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to Israel to avoid taking further measures that would make the already dire humanitarian situation in Hamas-run Gaza even worse, and spare civilians from further suffering.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas… For people who have been ordered to evacuate, there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive.”
Israel took control of much of the northern half of the Gaza Strip in November, and since the collapse of a week-long truce on Friday, Israel has rapidly pushed into the southern half.
The armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, an ally of Hamas, said that its fighters engaged in violent clashes with Israeli soldiers north and east of Khan Yunis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip.
Residents said that Israeli tanks entered the Gaza Strip across the border and cut off the main road between north and south. The Israeli army said that the central road leading from Khan Yunis to the north “constitutes a battlefield” and is now closed.
Israel said on Tuesday that three of its soldiers were killed in fighting in Gaza on Monday, in what army radio described as a day of fierce battles with Hamas fighters. 78 soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the army’s ground invasion began.
Israel launched its attack to eliminate Hamas in response to a cross-border attack launched by Hamas gunmen on October 7 on border towns, kibbutzim and a music festival. The gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostage, according to Israeli statistics – the bloodiest day in Israel’s 75-year history.
Philippe Lazzarini, who heads the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza (UNRWA), said the resumption of the Israeli military operation repeats “the horrors of past weeks” by displacing previously displaced people, overcrowding hospitals and further stifling the humanitarian operation due to limited supplies.
“We have said it repeatedly. We say it again. There is no safe place in Gaza, whether in the south or the southwest, whether in Rafah or in any unilaterally called ‘safe zone,'” he said.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated Israel’s calls to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals.
“WHO has received notification from the Israeli military that our supplies must be removed from our medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours, as ground operations will render them unusable,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday.
A refugee in a barren land
Up to 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes during the eight weeks of war that has turned the crowded enclave into a barren wasteland.
On Monday, Israel ordered the Palestinians to leave parts of Khan Yunis, indicating that they should move towards the Mediterranean coast and towards the city of Rafah, which is close to the Egyptian border.
Desperate Gazans in Khan Yunis packed their belongings and headed towards Rafah. Most of them were on foot, passing by the destroyed buildings in a solemn and silent procession.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman said that Israel seeking evacuations in targeted areas rather than entire cities was an “improvement.”
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that Washington expects Israel to avoid attacking areas designated as “no-strike” zones in Gaza.
He said that the United States had discussed with Israel how long the war with Hamas should last, but he declined to share that timetable.
A senior Israeli official said that Israel is taking the time to issue more precise evacuation orders to limit civilian casualties, but Israel cannot completely rule this out.
The official said: “We did not start this war. We regret the civilian casualties, but when you want to confront evil, you have to conduct operations.”
More than 100 hostages held by Iran-backed Hamas were released during a seven-day truce last month. Israeli authorities say seven civilians and an army colonel were killed in captivity, while 137 hostages remain in Gaza.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said that during the eight weeks of war, at least 15,899 Palestinians were killed, 70% of whom were women or under 18. They say thousands more are missing and feared buried under the rubble, with about 900 people killed since the truce ended on Friday.
Israel accuses Hamas of endangering civilians by operating from civilian areas, including tunnels that can only be destroyed by large bombs. Hamas denies doing so.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing US officials, that Israel had assembled a pump system that could be used to flood Hamas’ tunnels.
It was not clear whether Israel would consider using the pumps before all the hostages were released, according to the story.
(Reporting by Mohammed Salem in Gaza, Mayan Lobel, Ari Rabinovitch and Emily Rose in Jerusalem, Maggie Fick in Beirut and Andrew Mills in Doha; Preparing by Mohammed Salem for the Arab Bulletin; Editing by Mohammed Salem in Gaza, Mayan Lobel, Ari Rabinovitch and Emily Rose in Jerusalem) Writing by Humeyra Pamuk and Stephen Coates . Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Lincoln Feast, and Kim Coghill
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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