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”.