Israel widens evacuation orders because it shifts its offensive to southern Gaza amid heavy bombardments

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israel’s navy on Sunday ordered extra areas in and round Gaza’s second-largest metropolis of Khan Younis to evacuate, because it shifted its offensive to the southern half of the territory the place it says many Hamas leaders are hiding.

Heavy bombardments had been reported in a single day and into Sunday within the space of Khan Younis and the southern metropolis of Rafah, in addition to elements of the north that had been the main target of Israel’s blistering air and floor marketing campaign.

Most of the territory’s 2.3 million individuals are crammed within the south after Israeli forces ordered civilians to depart the north within the early days of the 2-month-old warfare.

With the resumption of combating, hopes receded that one other momentary truce could possibly be negotiated. A weeklong cease-fire, which expired Friday, had facilitated the discharge of dozens of Gaza-held Israeli and international hostages and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

“We are going to proceed the warfare till we obtain all its objectives, and it’s unimaginable to attain these objectives with out the bottom operation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned in an deal with Saturday evening.

On Sunday, the Israeli navy widened evacuation orders in and round Khan Younis, asking residents of no less than 5 extra areas and neighborhoods to depart for his or her security.

Residents mentioned the Israeli navy dropped leaflets ordering them to maneuver south to Rafah or to a coastal space within the southwest. “Khan Younis metropolis is a harmful fight zone,” the leaflets learn.

The primary hospital in Khan Younis obtained no less than three lifeless and dozens wounded Sunday morning from an Israeli strike that hit a residential constructing within the japanese a part of the town, in response to an Related Press journalist on the hospital.

Individually, the our bodies of 31 individuals who had been killed in Israeli bombardment throughout the central areas of the strip had been taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Gaza’s central metropolis of Deir al-Balah, mentioned Omar al-Darawi, an administrative worker at that hospital.

AP video confirmed our bodies in white physique luggage on the bottom exterior the hospital in Deri al-Balah as dozens of individuals held funeral prayers Sunday morning. The our bodies had been then taken on a truck for burial.

One girl wept, cradling the physique of a kid on her lap as she sat on a chair. One other grownup carried the physique of a child as he acquired right into a truck.

U.N. screens mentioned in a report issued earlier than the newest evacuation orders that those that had been informed to depart make up about one-quarter of the territory of Gaza — house to just about 800,000 individuals earlier than the warfare.

The US, Israel’s closest ally, has warned Israel to keep away from vital new mass displacement.

The Israeli navy mentioned Sunday that its fighter jets and helicopters “struck terror targets within the Gaza Strip, together with terror tunnel shafts, command facilities and weapons storage amenities” in a single day, whereas a drone killed 5 Hamas fighters.

In northern Gaza, rescue groups with little gear scrambled Sunday to dig by means of the rubble of buildings within the Jabaliya refugee camp and different neighborhoods in Gaza Metropolis in seek for potential survivors and lifeless our bodies.

“They strike all over the place,” mentioned Amal Radwan, a lady sheltering in Jabaliya, an city refugee camp. “There may be the continuous sound of explosions round us.”

Mohamed Abu Abed, who lives within the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza Metropolis, additionally mentioned there have been relentless airstrikes and shelling in his neighborhood and surrounding areas.

“The state of affairs right here is possible,” he mentioned. “Loss of life is all over the place. One can die in a flash.”

The Well being Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza mentioned Saturday that the general loss of life toll within the strip because the Oct. 7 begin of the warfare had surpassed 15,200, a pointy soar from the earlier rely of greater than 13,300 on Nov. 20. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but it surely mentioned 70% of the lifeless had been ladies and kids. It mentioned greater than 40,000 individuals had been wounded because the warfare started.

U.S. appeals to guard civilians got here after an offensive within the first weeks of the warfare devastated massive areas of northern Gaza. A lot of Gaza’s inhabitants is packed into the territory’s southern half. The territory itself, bordering Israel and Egypt to the south, is sealed, leaving residents with the one possibility of transferring round inside Gaza to keep away from the bombings.

“Too many harmless Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the size of civilian struggling and the pictures and movies coming from Gaza are devastating,” U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris informed reporters Saturday through the COP28 local weather convention in Dubai.

Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, mentioned Israel was making “most effort” to guard civilians and the navy has used leaflets, cellphone calls, and radio and TV broadcasts to induce Gazans to maneuver from particular areas. He added that Israel is contemplating making a safety buffer zone that might not enable Gazans direct entry to the border fence on foot.

Israel says it targets Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of working in residential neighborhoods. It claims to have killed hundreds of militants, with out offering proof. Israel says no less than 78 of its troopers have been killed within the offensive in northern Gaza.

Bombardments on Saturday destroyed a block of about 50 residential buildings within the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza Metropolis and a six-story constructing within the city refugee camp of Jabaliya on the northern fringe of the town, mentioned the U.N. Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Greater than 60 individuals had been killed within the Shijaiyah strikes and greater than 300 buried below the rubble, the screens mentioned, citing the Palestinian Purple Crescent.

Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesman for Gaza’s Civil Protection, mentioned rescuers lack bulldozers and different gear to succeed in these buried below the rubble, confirming the Purple Crescent estimate of about 300 individuals lacking. He mentioned the block had housed over 1,000 individuals.

“Retrieving the martyrs is extraordinarily troublesome,” he mentioned in video feedback from the location of the assault.

In the meantime, Harris informed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in a gathering that “by no means” would the U.S. allow the compelled relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Financial institution, an ongoing siege of Gaza or the redrawing of its borders, in response to a U.S. abstract.

The warfare was sparked by an Oct. 7 assault by Hamas and different militants that killed about 1,200 individuals, largely civilians, in southern Israel. Round 240 individuals had been taken captive.

The renewed hostilities have heightened considerations for 137 hostages, who the Israeli navy says are nonetheless being held after 105 had been freed through the current truce. Israel freed 240 Palestinians through the truce. Most of these launched by either side had been ladies and kids.


Magdy reported from Cairo and Becatoros from Athens. Related Press author Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel contributed to this report.

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