IDF pushes into south Gaza



Palestinian Red Crescent spokesman Mahmoud Basal told Al-Jazeera that there were more than 300 “martyrs” in Gaza City’s Shujaia neighbourhood and that homes were flattened. Israel’s military said it killed Hamas’ Shujaia battalion commander but gave no details on the operation. Residents could not be reached.

In northern Gaza, an airstrike flattened a building hosting families in the urban refugee camp of Jabaliya on Gaza City’s outskirts. It left dozens dead or wounded, said residents Hamza Obeid and Amal Radwan.

“The building turned into a pile of rubble,” Obeid said. AP video showed smoke rising as men, some in sandals, picked their way over debris. The Israeli military confirmed it was operating in Jabaliya and said it had found and destroyed Hamas tunnels in the surrounding area.

A powerful strike hit a cluster of multi-story buildings in Hamad City, a Qatari-funded housing development on the outskirts of Khan Younis. Smoke engulfed the complex. There was no immediate word on casualties.

“Where is it safe? I swear to God, no one knows, where are we going?” asked Zohair al Raai, who said his family received a recorded message saying their building should evacuate.

Also in the south, at least nine people, including three children, were killed in a strike on a house in Deir al-Balah, according to the hospital where bodies were taken.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militant groups in Gaza said they fired a barrage of rockets on southern Israel. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesperson, said Hamas had launched more than 250 since the ceasefire ended.

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With the resumption of fighting, the Israeli military published an online map carving up Gaza into hundreds of numbered parcels and asked residents to familiarise themselves with the number of their location ahead of evacuation warnings.

The military listed more than two dozen parcel numbers around Gaza City and east of Khan Younis. Separately, it dropped leaflets with evacuation orders over towns east of Khan Younis.

One Khan Younis resident said a neighbour received a call from the Israeli army warning that houses in the area would be hit. “We told them, ‘We have nothing here, why do you want to strike it?’” said the resident, Hikmat al-Qidra. He said the house was destroyed.

The maps and leaflets generated panic and confusion, especially in the crowded south. Unable to go to northern Gaza or neighbouring Egypt, their only escape is to move around within the 220-square-kilometer (85-square-mile) area.

“There is no place to go,” said Emad Hajar, who fled to Khan Younis a month ago. “They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south.”

Mark Regev, a senior advisor to Netanyahu, said Israel was making “maximum effort” to protect civilians and the military has used leafleting, phone calls, and radio and TV broadcasts to urge Gazans to move from specific areas.

Regev added that Israel is considering a future security buffer zone that would not allow Gazans direct access to the border fence on foot.

Israel says it targets Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighbourhoods. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says 77 of its soldiers have been killed in the offensive in northern Gaza.

AP

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