Hamas-Israel war: intense fighting in the south of the Gaza Strip

by time news

2023-12-08 06:05:00

Intense urban fighting raged Friday in and around the largest cities in the Gaza Strip, two months after Hamas’ bloody attack on Israel and the start of a war whose death toll continues to rise. After a first phase of its ground offensive against Hamas concentrated in the north of Gaza, the army this week extended its operations to the south, where nearly two million civilians have taken refuge.

On the spot, Israeli soldiers, supported by airstrikes, confronted Hamas fighters on Thursday in Khan Younes, the largest city in the south which has become the epicenter of the war, as well as in the north, in the city of Gaza and the neighboring sector of Jabaliya. The death toll in Gaza rose further on Thursday to reach 17,177 deaths, 70% of them women and those under 18, killed by Israeli bombings, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health. And early Friday, the ministry reported 40 deaths in strikes near Gaza City, and “dozens” of others in Jabaliya (north) and Khan Younes (south). Unverifiable figures.

Attack

On Thursday evening, Israeli television channels broadcast videos showing dozens of Palestinians in their underwear, blindfolded, under the guard of Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, provoking heated controversy on social networks. The Israeli army said it was “investigating” to “verify who is linked to Hamas and who is not,” in reference to the terrorist organization. In a telephone interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden “insisted on the absolute need to protect civilians and separate the civilian population from Hamas”, according to the White House.

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The United States has firmly supported Israel since the bloody October 7 attack by Hamas, in which 1,200 people were killed according to Israeli authorities, but Washington is increasingly concerned about the toll of civilians in Gaza. A total of 89 Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting in Gaza, including on Thursday the son of Gadi Eisenkot, former army chief of staff and member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s War Cabinet.

Traumatized by the October 7 attack, Israel began Thursday evening to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. In Tel Aviv, families and loved ones of the hostages participated in a vigil where they lit the candles of a giant menorah, or candlestick, symbolically counting 138 branches, in tribute to those still hostages of Hamas.

From Gaza to Beirut

The war has also reignited tensions on the border between Israel and Lebanon, where there are daily exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and Lebanese Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. The Israeli army and emergency services announced Thursday the death of an Israeli civilian, killed in northern Israel by an anti-tank missile attack claimed by Hezbollah. During the night, the Israeli army reported two soldiers lightly injured by an anti-tank missile fire and announced it was carrying out airstrikes against Hezbollah sites.

Beyjamin Netanyahu issued a new warning to the Lebanese Shiite movement: “I suggest to our enemies to be careful, because if Hezbollah chooses to start a total war, it will transform Beirut and southern Lebanon, not far from ‘here in Gaza and Khan Yunis.’

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