Hamas-Israeli fighting heats up inside Gaza

Gaza  - Dozens of Israeli tanks rolled into southern Gaza on Monday, witnesses said, despite global concern over mounting civilian deaths and fears the war on Hamas will spread elsewhere in the Middle East.

Weeks after Israel sent ground forces into northern Gaza, the army has been air-dropping leaflets in parts of the besieged territory’s south, telling Palestinians to flee to other areas.

Tanks, armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers were seen Monday near the city of Khan Yunis, which is crowded with internally displaced Palestinians, witnesses told AFP. 

Amin Abu Hawli, 59, said the Israeli vehicles were two kilometres (1.2 miles) inside Gaza in the village of al-Qarara, while Moaz Mohammed, 34, said Israeli tanks were moving down the strip’s main north-south highway, the Salah al-Din road. 

The military was trying to cut the road between Deir al-Balah in central Gaza and Khan Yunis, “firing bullets and tank shells at cars and people trying to move through the area,” Mohammed said.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari said Sunday that the army “continues to expand its ground operation against main Hamas fronts in the Gaza Strip”. 

“Wherever there is a Hamas stronghold, the IDF operates,” he added. Fullscale fighting resumed Friday after the collapse of a week-long truce brokered by Qatar, the United States and Egypt, during which Israel and Hamas had exchanged scores of hostages and prisoners. Air strikes have since intensified in Gaza’s south, said James Elder, a spokesman for the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF. 

“Despite what has been assured, attacks in the south of Gaza are every bit as vicious as what the north endured,” he posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt