Israel says forces thrusts into Khan Younis amid intense fighting

Hamas says more than 16,000 martyred in Gaza | Israel confirms troop deaths raise toll to 82

Announces plans to flood Gaza tunnels with seawater.

GAZA/JERUSALEM  -  Hamas battled Israeli forces in southern Gaza on Tuesday, prompt­ing a UN warning of an “even more hellish scenario” as fighting push­es civilians into a steadily shrinking area of the besieged territory.

After initially focusing its assault on the north of Gaza, the Israe­li army has now sent ground forces into the south and dropped leaflets telling Palestinian civilians in more districts to evacuate.

Israeli tanks, armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers were seen on Monday near the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, which is packed with displaced civilians, witnesses told AFP. Hamas officials say at least 16,248 people have been martyred in Gaza since the start of the conflict.

Hamas’s media office said more than 7,000 children and nearly 5,000 women have been martyred in Gaza over the near two months of fighting. At least 45 people were martyred in central Gaza, the spokesperson for the al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah has told the BBC, after reports of an Israeli airstrike in the city. 

Israeli army’s death toll swells to 82 on Tuesday as Tel Aviv says the Israeli defence forces head has indi­cated that the army could flood Gaza tunnels with seawater. Ministry. 

The Israeli army said it was taking “aggressive” action against Hamas and other groups in Khan Yunis, warning that the main road in the north and east of the city “consti­tutes a battlefield”. Hamas claimed via Telegram its militants had tar­geted two personnel carriers and a tank near Khan Yunis.

Its military branch also said it had fired rockets towards Beersheba in southern Israel on Tuesday, while the Israeli military said rocket warn­ing sirens sounded there.

International aid organisations have warned that civilians in the densely populated Strip are running out of places to flee to.

“Nowhere is safe in Gaza and there is nowhere left to go,” said Lynn Hastings, UN humanitarian coordi­nator for the Palestinian territories.

“If possible, an even more hellish scenario is about to unfold, one in which humanitarian operations may not be able to respond,” Hastings said in a statement.

Ambulances, trucks and other ve­hicles delivered more bloodied, dust-covered casualties to Khan Yu­nis’s Nasser hospital, including chil­dren. After visiting another medical facility in the city, the European Hos­pital, International Committee of the Red Cross president Mirjana Spol­jaric said she saw horrors that were hard to describe.

Key ally the United States has cau­tioned Israel to do more to avert ci­vilian casualties as operations shift to the south. Israel on Monday said it was not seeking to force Palestinian civilians to permanently leave their homes, but that it was instead seek­ing support from aid groups to im­prove infrastructure in a tiny coastal area of Gaza named Al-Mawasi.

On Monday, all mobile and tele­phone services were cut across Gaza “due to the cut-off of main fi­bre routes from the Israeli side”, according to Palestinian telecom­munications firm Paltel. Global net­work monitor Netblocks confirmed Tuesday that Gaza residents were experiencing “a total loss of com­munications”.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt