March 3, 2024

Gaza Israel, Hamas fighters trade fire in renewed hostilities

Israeli troops and Hamas militants were locked in fierce ground combat in Gaza on Wednesday after the Israelis, fighting their way through the devastated Palestinian enclave, reached the heart of the southern city of Khan Younis.

Israeli warplanes also bombarded targets in one of the heaviest phases of warfare in the two months since the Hamas-Israel war began.

Palestinian medics said hospitals were overflowing with dead and wounded civilians, many of them women and children, and supplies were running out. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes were seeking shelter in a decreasing number of safe areas.

Israeli troops and tanks have pushed through to the southern part of the Gaza Strip after largely gaining control of the north in a campaign to eliminate Hamas. They have encircled Khan Younis in a surge of violence since a truce collapsed last week.

Israel said its forces were fighting fierce battles on Wednesday and had struck hundreds of targets in the enclave, including a militant cell near a school in the north.

Hamas’ armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, also said its fighters were engaged in clashes with Israeli forces.

Hamas said it had killed or wounded eight Israeli soldiers and destroyed 24 military vehicles on Tuesday. Israel said 84 of its soldiers had been killed since the ground operation began five weeks ago.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said Hamas fighters were using improvised explosive devices and anti-personnel mines in a shift of tactics as the fighting moved to close ground combat.

Israel unleashed its campaign in response to an attack on Oct. 7 by Hamas fighters who rampaged through Israeli towns, killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages, according to Israel’s tally.

Hamas’ media office said on Tuesday at least 16,248 people including 7,112 children and 4,885 women had been killed in Gaza since then. Those figures were not immediately verified by the Gaza health ministry.

 

Reuters

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