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

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KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israel’s army 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 persons 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 short-term truce may very well be negotiated. A weeklong cease-fire, which expired Friday, had facilitated the discharge of dozens of Gaza-held Israeli and overseas hostages and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

“We’ll proceed the warfare till we obtain all its targets, and it’s not possible to realize these targets with out the bottom operation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned in an tackle Saturday night time.

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On Sunday, the Israeli army widened evacuation orders in and round Khan Younis, asking residents of a minimum of 5 extra areas and neighborhoods to depart for his or her security.

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

U.N. screens mentioned in a report issued earlier than the newest evacuation orders that the areas residents had been informed to depart make up about one-quarter of the territory of Gaza. The report mentioned that these areas had been residence to just about 800,000 folks earlier than the warfare.

Forward of a resumption of combating, the USA, Israel’s closest ally, had warned Israel to keep away from vital new mass displacement.

The Israeli army 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 services” in a single day, whereas a drone killed 5 Hamas fighters.

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

“They strike all over the place,” mentioned Amal Radwan, a lady sheltering in Jabaliya, an city refugee camp. “There’s 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 artillery shelling in his neighborhood and surrounding areas.

“The state of affairs right here is possible,” he mentioned. “Demise 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 for the reason that Oct. 7 begin of the warfare had surpassed 15,200, a pointy leap 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 {dead} had been ladies and youngsters. It mentioned greater than 40,000 folks had been wounded for the reason that warfare started.

U.S. appeals to guard civilians got here after an offensive within the first weeks of the warfare devastated giant 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 choice of transferring round inside Gaza to keep away from the bombings.

“Too many harmless Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the dimensions of civilian struggling and the pictures and movies coming from Gaza are devastating,” U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris informed reporters Saturday in the course of 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 army has used leaflets, telephone 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 permit 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 1000’s of militants, with out offering proof. Israel says a minimum of 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 town, mentioned the U.N. Workplace for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Greater than 60 folks had been killed within the Shijaiyah strikes and greater than 300 buried beneath 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 achieve these buried beneath the rubble, confirming the Purple Crescent estimate of about 300 folks lacking. He mentioned the block had housed over 1,000 folks.

“Retrieving the martyrs is extraordinarily tough,” 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 “not at all” would the U.S. allow the pressured relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Financial institution, an ongoing siege of Gaza or the redrawing of its borders, in line with a U.S. abstract.

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

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


Magdy reported from Cairo and Becatoros from Athens. Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv contributed.

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