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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Israeli army tour of northern Gaza reveals ravaged buildings, toppled bushes, former weapons lab

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INSIDE THE GAZA STRIP — An Israeli tank rolls throughout a sandy moonscape, surrounded by rubble. Broken buildings are seen in each path. Toppled bushes lie alongside the Mediterranean shoreline.

The Israeli army escorted worldwide journalists into the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, giving them a glimpse of the aftermath of 12 days of heavy preventing within the space.

Israel has been at battle towards Gaza’s Hamas rulers for the reason that Islamic militant group carried out a bloody cross-border assault on Oct. 7, killing over 1,400 folks, principally civilians, and kidnapping greater than 240 others. Israel responded with weeks of intense airstrikes earlier than launching a floor operation on Oct. 27.

“It’s been a protracted two weeks of preventing,” mentioned Lt. Col. Ido, whose final identify was withheld beneath army tips. “We have misplaced some troopers.”

The preliminary focus of the operation was northern Gaza, close to the Israeli border, earlier than troops moved in on Gaza Metropolis, which Israel says is the middle of Hamas’ army operations.

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The Palestinian Well being Ministry says 10,500 folks have been killed within the Hamas-run territory. Israel says a number of thousand Hamas militants are among the many {dead}. It additionally says Hamas makes use of civilians in residential areas as human shields, and so is answerable for the excessive demise toll. Hamas has denied this.

The drive into Gaza on Wednesday was in a windowless armored automobile. A display inside confirmed photos of the shoreline, broken buildings and downed bushes. Israeli tanks and armored autos sat immobile as troopers patrolled the realm.

Through the tour, the military mentioned it had discovered ammunition and a weapons-making facility inside one constructing. A lot of the lab had been eliminated, however the remnants of rockets, hundreds of which have been launched at Israel through the preventing, might be seen.

One flooring above the lab was what seemed to be a youngsters’s bed room. The intense pink room had a number of beds, a doll and a Palestinian flag.

Through the lower than two hours they spent inside Gaza on Wednesday, journalists may hear gunfire however didn’t witness any dwell hearth. Israeli troops instructed the journalists to not transfer round an excessive amount of.

The military ordered civilians to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip forward of the bottom offensive. Whereas about 70% of Gaza’s inhabitants is believed to have fled their properties, U.N. officers estimate that roughly 300,000 folks have remained behind.

However on this nook of northern Gaza, Ido mentioned the order seems to have labored.

“We now have not seen any civilians right here – solely Hamas,” he mentioned, including that militants had been noticed working aboveground and rising from their underground tunnel system.

“We gave all of the folks that dwell right here heads-up that we’re coming,” he added.

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