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Article: Israeli forces raze parts of Gaza's Jabalia, hit Rafah with airstrikes

Israeli forces raze parts of Gaza's Jabalia, hit Rafah with airstrikes

Israeli forces raze parts of Gaza's Jabalia, hit Rafah with airstrikes

PHOTO CAPTION: An Israeli tank moves near the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, May 21, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

 

 

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

(Reuters) -Israeli forces thrust deeper into the Jabalia camp in northern Gaza on Tuesday, laying waste to residential districts with tank and air bombardments, residents said, while Israeli airstrikes killed at least five people in the southern city of Rafah.

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on the northern and southern edges of the Gaza Strip this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes, and sharply restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

In Jabalia, a sprawling refugee camp built for displaced civilians 75 years ago, the Israeli army used bulldozers to clear shops and property near the local market, residents said, in a military operation that began almost two weeks ago.

Israel said it has returned to the camp, where it had claimed to have dismantled Hamas months ago, to prevent the militant group that controls Gaza from regrouping.

The health authorities and Gaza Civil Emergency Service said dozens of bodies were trapped under rubble of houses and on the roads in Jabalia, but were out of reach of rescue teams.

"Israel is destroying the camp on the heads of the people, the bombardment never stops, and the world is calling for more food to enter Gaza. We want to spare lives not extra food," said Abu El-Nasser, a resident of Jabalia, who fled to Gaza City.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war in Gaza, which is now in its eighth month, according to the Gaza health ministry. At least 10,000 others are missing and believed to be trapped under destroyed buildings, it says.

Israel is seeking to eradicate Hamas after militants from the group stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 and taking more than 250 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

The war has devastated the overcrowded coastal enclave, destroying houses, schools and hospitals and creating a dire humanitarian crisis.

In a roundup of its activity over the past day, the Israeli military said it had dismantled "about 70 terror targets" throughout the Gaza Strip, including military compounds, weapon storage sites, missile launchers and observation posts.

Residents and medical officials said Israeli tanks were besieging the Al-Awda Hospital in Jabalia for the third day, and officials at Kamal Adwan Hospital in nearby Beit Lahiya said they were evacuating patients after it was hit by Israeli fire.

AIRSTRIKES

In the south, airstrikes killed three children in a house in Khan Younis and at least five people including three children in a home in Rafah.

East of Khan Younis, residents said they were fleeing Khuzaa town after Israeli troops began an incursion on the eastern edge of the territory, bulldozing across the border fence.

"Bombing everywhere, people are leaving in panic. It was a surprising incursion," one resident from Khuzaa told Reuters by phone as he and his family were leaving.

Israel is pushing on with its operations in Rafah on Gaza's southern border with Egypt, where more than half of the territory's 2.3 million population had sought refuge after being displaced from areas further north.

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency in Gaza, estimated as of Monday that more 800,000 had fled since Israel began targeting the city in early May, despite international pleas for restraint over concern about civilian casualties.

Israel has pledged to continue with the Rafah assault to root out what it says are four remaining battalions of Hamas fighters holed up there. Tanks made incursions into the eastern Rafah suburbs of Jeneina, Al-Salam, and Brazil, according to residents.

The Israeli military said over the past day it had "identified a terrorist shooting mortar shells at IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) troops," though no injuries were reported. It said it had taken out the enemy with an airstrike and had located rockets and additional military equipment in the area.

(Reporting by Nidal Al-Mughrabi in Cairo; writing by Sharon Singleton; Editing by Ros Russell)

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