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Israel tanks enter Gaza City fringes as army ramps up assault

  • Israel's self-declared 'second phase' of a three-week war has been largely kept from public view, with forces moving under darkness and a telecommunications blackout cutting off Palestinians
Published October 30, 2023

GAZA STRIP: Israeli tanks advanced into the fringes of Gaza City on Monday, witnesses said, as it ramped up its war on Hamas saying it had killed dozens in hundreds of strikes.

“We have hit more than 600 targets in the past 24 hours,” a military spokesperson told AFP, up from 450 the previous day, with Hamas also reporting “heavy fighting” in northern Gaza.

Tanks entered the Zaytun district on the southern fringes of Gaza City, cutting a key road from the north to the south of the war-torn Palestinian territory, witnesses told AFP on Monday.

“They have cut the Salahedin Road and are firing at any vehicle that tries to go along it,” said one resident who did not give his name.

UN chief warns Gaza growing more desperate ‘by the hour’

Israel has warned the 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza, including Gaza City, to head south to avoid its military strikes as it pushes ahead with a mission to “destroy” the territory’s Hamas rulers.

Although huge numbers have left in recent weeks, tens of thousands more are believed to be still in the zone.

Since Friday, Israeli forces have stepped up their ground offensive.

The health ministry in Gaza says more than 8,000 people, mainly civilians, mostly civilians and more than half of them children, have since been killed in Israeli air and ground strikes.

The Israeli army said troops killed “dozens” in overnight clashes, saying they had “barricaded themselves inside buildings and tunnels and attempted to attack the troops”.

In one incident, a fighter jet targeted a building “with over 20 Hamas group operatives inside,” while another fighter jet was guided to an anti-tank missile launching post in the area of Al-Azhar University, it said. The university is in the heart of Gaza City.

It also said it hit “weapons depots, dozens of anti-tank missile launching positions, as well as hideouts and staging grounds used by the Hamas terrorist organisation”.

Palestinians report fierce air, artillery strikes

Earlier, Palestinians in northern Gaza reported fierce air and artillery strikes early on Monday as Israeli troops backed by tanks pressed into the enclave with a ground assault that prompted more international calls for civilians to be protected.

Israeli air strikes hit areas near Gaza City’s Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals, and Palestinian clashed with Israeli forces in a border area east of the city of Khan Younis, in the enclave’s south, Palestinian media said.

The bombardments came hours after Israel released images of battle tanks on the west coast of the Palestinian enclave, signalling a potential effort to surround Gaza’s main city two days after the Israeli government ordered expanded ground incursions across its eastern border.

Some pictures posted online also appeared to show Israeli soldiers waving an Israeli flag deep inside Gaza.

Reuters could not verify the images.

Israel’s self-declared “second phase” of a three-week war against Hamas group has been largely kept from public view, with forces moving under darkness and a telecommunications blackout cutting off Palestinians.

The phone and internet cuts appeared to ease on Sunday, but telecoms provider Paltel said Israeli air strikes had again knocked out internet and phone service in parts of the enclave’s northern sections, where Hamas group has command centres.

The outages have severely hampered rescue operations for casualties of Israeli barrages.

The reported strikes near hospitals came after the Palestinian Red Crescent said on Sunday it had received warnings from Israeli authorities to immediately evacuate al-Quds hospital, where some 14,000 people have sought shelter.

Israel has accused Hamas group of locating command centres and other military infrastructure in Gaza hospitals, which the group denies.

Palestinian officials said about 50,000 people had also taken shelter in Shifa Hospital, adding that they were concerned about Israeli threats to the facility. Israel has tightened its blockade and bombarded Gaza since Hamas group stormed across the border into Israel on Oct. 7.

Israeli authorities say the Hamas group killed some 1,400 people and took at least 239 hostages.

It has also stepped up operations against Hamas groups in the occupied West Bank, killing scores of Palestinians and arresting hundreds.

Gaza civilians should move south where aid efforts ‘will expand’: Israel

Two Palestinians were killed and nine injured on Monday during an Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Jenin and its refugee camp, Palestinian official news agency WAFA said.

Calls for a pause

The stepped-up attacks by Israel coincided with a mounting international outcry for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid in.

Qatar-mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas group continued on Sunday, a source briefed on the talks told Reuters, and included discussions about the possible release of hostages.

Hamas group wants a five-day humanitarian pause in Israel’s operations to allow aid and fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip in return for the release of all civilian hostages held by the Hamas group, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

More than half the hostages held by Hamas group have foreign passports from 25 countries, including 54 Thai nationals, according to the Israeli government.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council is due to be briefed on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The 15-member body has unsuccessfully voted four times in the past two weeks on draft resolutions that aimed to take action on the war, but the 193-member UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Friday to call for an immediate humanitarian truce.

US President Joe Biden pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a call on Sunday to protect civilians in Gaza and “immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian aid” to the besieged costal enclave, the White House said.

Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi committed to the significant acceleration of assistance flowing into Gaza beginning Sunday, the White House said separately.

Gaza connectivity ‘being restored’: Internet monitor Netblocks

Colonel Elad Goren of COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry agency that co-ordinates with the Palestinians, said Israel will allow a dramatic increase in aid to Gaza in coming days and Palestinian civilians should head to a “humanitarian zone” in the south of the tiny territory.

Medical authorities in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of 2.3 million people, said on Sunday 8,005 people - including 3,324 minors - had been killed.

The Gaza government’s media office said 116 medics and 35 journalists have been killed since the conflict erupted.

Reuters was unable to independently verify these figures.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas group, a task it described as necessitating protracted ground assaults in, around and under Gaza City.

There are fears too of regional overspill of the Gaza war, such as in Lebanon, where the Israeli army and Iranian-backed Hezbollah group have been exchanging fire.

On Monday, Syrian state TV said Israeli air strikes targeted two army posts in Daraa, leading to “some material losses”.

The conflict has spurred large demonstrations worldwide in support of the Palestinians.

On Sunday several thousand people rallied in Beirut to show solidarity with Gaza.

Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters stormed Russia’s Dagestan airport in Makhachkala on Sunday after a plane from Israel arrived, forcing security forces to close the airport and divert flights while removing the demonstrators.

The incident prompted Israel to urge Moscow to protect Israelis and Jews in Russia.

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Parvez Oct 30, 2023 11:51am
Is it not time for Arab nations to put sanction on Israel etc ...... but with all their own business interests and wealth parked in " western " countries they are reduced to impotent mouth flappers......like most of the Muslim world.
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Tariq Qurashi Oct 30, 2023 04:53pm
Another day of cold blooded murder, while the world watches in horror but does absolutely nothing.
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