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Israel army pushes into refugee-crowded south Gaza

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Israel army pushes into refugee-crowded south Gaza

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GAZA — Israel’s military expanded its operation in the Gaza Strip on Monday, as the Palestinian death toll continues to climb.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) “operates wherever Hamas has strongholds,” army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said late Sunday evening.

Israeli soldiers launched a ground offensive on 27 October in Gaza, taking control of several sectors in the north. Since fighting resumed on Friday following the end of a week-long truce with Hamas, the army has mainly conducted air raids. Now its troops and tanks are pushing south where hundreds of thousands of refugees have sought sanctuary from the fighting.

An overnight airstrike hit the entrance of Kamal Adwan hospital, in northern Gaza, killing several people, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency. Hamas called this strike a “serious violation” of international humanitarian law.

Asked by AFP if it had bombed the hospital, the Israeli army did not respond immediately. Israel accuses Hamas of putting military infrastructure in or under hospitals and using civilians as human shields.

Some critics claim Israel uses this human shield argument to deflect attention away from its own conduct, while international law still obliges states to protect civilian life during combat. Evidence Israel has offered of Hamas using hospitals to conceal its military has been criticised.

The IDF reported on Monday five of its soldiers had been killed, including three on Sunday.

Earlier, the Israeli army also launched operations across the occupied West Bank, notably in Jenin, deploying around 30 military vehicles, according to Wafa.

Hospitals in southern Gaza are overwhelmed by the influx of wounded, with fuel reserves for generators almost running dry.

At the Nasser hospital in Khan Younes, the largest in southern Gaza, new wounded and new bodies, sometimes with no one to identify them, flood into the site after each explosion.

“Words fail me to describe the horrors that are hitting the children here,” James Elder, a Unicef ​​spokesperson present at Nasser, said in a video on Sunday. “I see children arriving en masse among the victims,” he declared earlier on X.

Since the start of the war, Israel’s army has carried out “around 10,000 airstrikes”, the IDF said on Sunday.

Palestinian authorities reported on Sunday that 15,523 people, 70% of them women and children, have been killed since the start of the war on 7 October, sparked by Hamas’ bloody attack on southern Israel.

“During the past hours, only 316 dead and 664 injured were able to be taken out of the rubble and brought to hospitals, but many others are still under the rubble,” said Gaza’s health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidreh.

Without calling into question the right of Israel “to defend itself”, the United States warned its principal ally in the Middle East over mounting civilian deaths.

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” Vice-President Kamala Harris said this weekend, alarmed by “devastating” images from Gaza. She called on Israel to “do more to protect innocent civilians.”

Hamas’ October attack killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to the authorities. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas and promised to “annihilate” the Islamist movement, ruling Gaza since 2007. — Euronews

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