Election 2024 Party Position

SIC-PTI
93
PML-N
75
PPPP
54
MQM
17
IND
8
JUI
6
Full Result

Israel presses ahead in battle against Hamas in southern Gaza

Israel presses ahead in battle against Hamas in southern Gaza

World

The fighting in Khan Younis comes as Israel refocused its war effort to the south

Follow on
Follow us on Google News

GAZA/CAIRO (Reuters) – Israeli tanks were trying to push further west in their battle against Hamas in and around Khan Younis on Monday, as they met resistance amid intense combat in a war that has now entered its third month and with no end in sight.

The fighting in Khan Younis, the main city in the southern Gaza Strip with a population of around 626,000 including people displaced by Israeli bombing in the north, comes as Israel refocused its war effort to the south.

Amid reports of a "catastrophic" health situation in Gaza from the World Health Organisation, Palestinian activists called for a global strike on Monday as part of a coordinated effort to pressure Israel into a cease-fire.

"It is time - WORLD WIDE TOTAL STRIKE," urged one call. But it was unclear whether the effort would catch on globally or have an impact on Israel's war plans.

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly was likely to vote on Tuesday on a draft resolution demanding a ceasefire, diplomats said on Sunday.

On Friday, the United States vetoed a UN Security Council proposal demanding an immediate cease-fire for humanitarian reasons.

The US vote was criticized by Arab foreign ministers on Sunday at an international conference in Doha, the capital of Qatar, which played a key role in negotiating the cease-fire late last month.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he would "not give up" appealing for a ceasefire.

"I urged the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared," Guterres said. "Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it, but that does not make it less necessary."

The fighting began on Oct. 7 when Hamas staged a surprise attack on Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages. In response, Israel has vowed to annihilate the militant Islamist group Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.

According to Gaza health authorities, around 18,000 people have been killed by Israeli attacks, with 49,500 injured. About 100 of the Israeli hostages were freed during a week-long truce that ended on Dec. 1.

THE ASSAULT

On Sunday, residents of Khan Younis said tanks had reached the city's main north-south road. Warplanes were attacking an area to the west.

The air rumbled with the constant thud of explosions and thick columns of white smoke rose over the city, which is sheltering hundreds of thousands of civilians who fled other parts of the enclave. As morning broke near a city-centre police station, the constant rattle of machinegun fire could be heard. Streets there were deserted apart from an old woman and a girl riding on a donkey cart.

"It was one of the most dreadful nights, the resistance was very strong, we could hear gunshots and explosions that didn't stop for hours," a father of four displaced from Gaza City and sheltering in Khan Younis told Reuters. He declined to be identified for fear of reprisals.

"In Khan Younis tanks reached Jamal Abdel-Nasser Street, which is at the centre of the city. Snipers took positions on buildings in the area," he said.

Israel launched the storm of Khan Younis this week after a truce collapsed, extending its ground war to Gaza's southern half in a new, expanded phase of its two-month-old campaign to wipe out Hamas militants. International aid organisations say this has left the enclave's 2.3 million people with nowhere to hide.

At the site of one Khan Younis home that had been destroyed by bombing overnight, relatives of the dead were combing the rubble in a daze. They dragged the body of a middle-aged man in a yellow T-shirt from under the masonry.

"We prayed the nighttime prayer and went to sleep, then woke up to find the house on top of us. 'Who's alive?!'" said Ahmed Abdel Wahab.

"The civil defence forces came and rescued who they could, and this is what's left. Three floors above collapsed down and the people are under it. God is our saviour and the disposer of our affairs. My mother and father, my sister and brother, all of my cousins."

Guterres said the city could be on the verge of collapse with the possibility of epidemic diseases engulfing it.

Israel and Hamas meanwhile engaged in a war of words on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised statement that dozens of Hamas fighters had surrendered, while Hamas rebutted the claim and said it had destroyed 180 Israeli military vehicles. It did not provide evidence, however.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Gaza were at maximum capacity with dead and injured Palestinians, according to the main Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.

While the world's attention has been riveted on the military action in the Gaza Strip, worries of the war spreading were further fed by fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is backed by Iran.

Also on Sunday, Ayman Safadi, the foreign minister of Jordan, accused Israel of "a systematic effort to empty Gaza of its people" and pushing them to leave the territory.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy called the accusation "outrageous and false," saying his country was defending itself "from the monsters who perpetrated the Oct. 7 massacre" and bring them to justice.

ISRAEL REJECTS CEASEFIRE

The Islamic Jihad, allied to Gaza's Hamas rulers, said its fighters were battling Israeli forces in the area. The Israeli military said it bombed underground tunnel shafts in Khan Younis and attacked a squad of Palestinian gunmen preparing an ambush, but said nothing about any tank advance there.

Both sides also reported heavy fighting in the north of the Gaza Strip, where Israel had previously said its troops had mainly succeeded in their mission last month. Explosions rang out at dawn there and columns of smoke could be seen from across the fence in Israel.

Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, after militants burst across the fence on Oct. 7 and went on a rampage through Israeli towns, gunning down families in their homes, killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages.

Since then, Gaza's health authorities say at least 17,700 people have been confirmed killed in Israeli strikes, with thousands more missing and presumed dead under rubble. The toll no longer includes figures from northern parts of the enclave, beyond the reach of ambulances and where hospitals have ceased functioning.

The vast majority of Gaza's residents have now been forced from their homes, many fleeing several times with only the belongings they can carry. Israel says it is doing what it can to protect them, but even its closest ally the United States says it has fallen short of those promises. An Israeli siege has cut off supplies, with the United Nations warning of mass hunger and disease.

At an international conference in Doha, capital of Qatar which acted as the main mediator for a week-long truce that saw more than 100 hostages freed, Arab foreign ministers criticised the United States for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution on Friday that demanded a humanitarian ceasefire.

Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the war risked radicalising an entire generation across the Middle East.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he would "not give up" appealing for a ceasefire.

"I urged the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared," Guterres said. "Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it, but that does not make it less necessary."

Israel has spurned demands it halt the fighting. Briefing his cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had told the leaders of France, Germany and other countries: "You cannot on the one hand support the elimination of Hamas, and on other pressure us to end the war, which would prevent the elimination of Hamas."




Advertisement