The Israeli bombing of Gaza kills dozens, as efforts continue to deliver aid to millions in the besieged Strip
Khan Yunis (Gaza Strip) – Israel on Tuesday bombed areas in southern Gaza to which it had asked Palestinians to flee ahead of an expected invasion, killing dozens. Meanwhile, mediators have struggled to break an impasse over providing aid to millions of increasingly desperate civilians in the region, which has been besieged and under attack by Israel since a brutal attack by Hamas militants.
The violence along the Israeli border with Lebanon has also led to concerns about the expansion of the regional conflict that diplomats are working to prevent.
In Gaza, residents reported that those injured in the air strikes were taken to hospital after violent attacks outside the cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. Basem Naim, a senior Hamas official and former health minister, reported that 27 people were killed in Rafah and 30 in Khan Yunis.
An Associated Press reporter saw about 50 bodies taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. Family members came to receive the bodies, which were wrapped in white sheets, some soaked in blood.
An airstrike in Deir al-Balah reduced a house to rubble, killing nine members of the family living there. Three members of another family evacuated from Gaza City were killed in a nearby house. Among the dead were a man, 11 women and children. Eyewitnesses said that there was no warning before the raid.
The Israeli army said it targeted Hamas hideouts, infrastructure and command centers.
“When we see a target, when we see something moving and it is Hamas, we will deal with it. We will deal with it,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an IDF spokesman.
Israel closed and bombed the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip Since the armed attack In southern Israel, on October 7, more than 1,400 people were killed, most of them civilians, leaving about 200 captive in Gaza.
Israeli raids killed at least 2,778 people and injured 9,700 others in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health. Medhat Abbas, an official at the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that about two-thirds of those killed were children. The strikes did not prevent Hamas fighters from continuing to fire a barrage of rockets at Israel from Gaza.
There are another 1,200 people across Gaza It is believed to be buried under the rubbleHealth authorities said, dead or alive. Emergency teams struggled to rescue people as the internet and mobile phone networks were cut off, they ran out of fuel, and they faced constant air strikes. On Monday, Israeli occupation aircraft bombed the Civil Defense headquarters in Gaza City, killing seven paramedics. Health authorities said that 10 paramedics and other doctors were killed while working.
Israel has mobilized its forces on the border in preparation for an expected ground attack, but Hecht said on Tuesday that no concrete decisions had been made yet.
He said, “These plans are under development. They will be decided and presented to our political leadership.”
Air strikes, dwindling supplies, and a mass evacuation order issued by Israel in the northern Gaza Strip have thrown the small enclave’s population of 2.3 million into a state of turmoil and despair.
More than a million Palestinians fled their homesThe United Nations said 60% of them are now in the area about 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of the evacuation zone.
Aid workers warned that the area was on the verge of complete collapse as hospitals were about to lose power, threatening the lives of thousands of patients, and hundreds of thousands of people searched for bread. And water.
Some departments in the only specialized cancer hospital in Gaza have stopped working due to a lack of fuel, and the remaining departments will run out within two days, according to a statement by Subhi Sakik, General Director of the Turkish Friendship Hospital.
At the Rafah crossing Gaza’s only connection to EgyptTrucks loaded with aid were waiting to enter the small, densely populated area, and the trapped civilians with foreign citizenship – many of them Palestinians with dual citizenship – were desperately hoping to get out.
The mediators are trying to reach a ceasefire to open the border, which was closed last week after Israeli air strikes. An agreement appeared to have been reached on Monday, but Israel denied reports of a ceasefire in Rafah, which is necessary to open the gates. On Tuesday morning, it was still closed.
An Egyptian official said on Tuesday that Egypt and Israel agreed that aid convoys on the border would travel to Israel for inspection at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel. After that, aid will be allowed to enter Gaza. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the media, said that there would be a short ceasefire on humanitarian grounds and foreigners would be allowed to exit Gaza via Rafah.
Both Hamas and Israel doubted the possibility of an immediate opening.
Hecht said: “The crossings are closed, and I am not aware of the existence of a truce or cessation of hostilities.”
Wael Abu Omar, Hamas spokesman at the Rafah crossing, said: “So far there is no agreement.”
The World Food Program said it has more than 300 tons of food waiting to cross into Gaza. “No one is giving up hope that this (crossing) will be open,” said Abeer Atifa, a World Food Program official.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Israel for the second time in a week on Monday after a six-nation tour across Arab countries, said in Tel Aviv that the United States and Israel agreed to develop a plan to enable humanitarian access to civilians in Gaza. There were few details, but the plan would include “the possibility of creating zones to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”
General Eric Kurella, head of US Central Command, arrived in Tel Aviv to hold meetings with Israeli military authorities ahead of Biden’s scheduled visit on Wednesday to signal the White House’s support for Israel. Biden will also travel to Jordan to meet Arab leaders amid concerns that the fighting could expand into a broader regional conflict.
Israel evacuated towns near its northern border with Lebanon, as the army repeatedly exchanged fire with the Lebanese army The Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.
The army said it killed four gunmen wearing explosive vests who were trying to cross into the country from Lebanon on Tuesday morning. A video clip from a reconnaissance drone shared by the army showed the militants near the border wall before they were targeted, causing an explosion. No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Israeli army spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari said: “Anyone who approaches the border with Lebanon will be killed.”
Israel warned Lebanon that it would respond forcefully to any cross-border attacks.
Israel fought a fierce, month-long war with Hezbollah in 2006, which ended in a stalemate and a tense detente between the two sides.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that the ongoing Israeli attack on Gaza could cause a violent reaction throughout the region.
“The bombing must stop immediately. Islamic countries are angry,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by state media.
Speaking before the Israeli Knesset on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran and Hezbollah: “Do not test us in the north. Don’t make the mistake of the past. Today, the price you will pay will be much heavier.”
Shortly after he spoke, the Knesset Hall was evacuated as rockets headed toward Jerusalem. Officials said sirens in Tel Aviv prompted American and Israeli officials to take shelter in a bunker.
The Israeli army announced on Monday that at least 199 hostages were being held in Gaza, a larger number than previously expected. Hamas said it was holding between 200 and 250 hostages.
The military wing of Hamas released a video of a hostage showing a dazed woman with her arm wrapped in bandages. The woman, who identified herself as Mia Shim, 21, shook slightly as she spoke, explosions echoing in the background.
the The plight of the hostages Israeli media have dominated since the attack, with interviews with their relatives shown on television almost constantly. Israeli officials pledged to continue the blockade of Gaza until the hostages are released.
In Gaza, more than 400,000 displaced people in the south crowded into schools and other facilities run by the United Nations agency for Palestinians. The agency said it only had one liter of water per day for each of its employees trapped in the area.
The United Nations said that Israel opened a water line to the south for three hours and only 14 percent of Gaza’s population benefited from it.
Kallab reported from Baghdad. Nisman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press journalists Amy Table in Jerusalem; Abby Sewell in Beirut; Sami Magdy and Jack Jeffrey in Cairo; Ashraf Sweilem from Al-Arish, Egypt, contributed to this report.