| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Israel expands offensive in Gaza as death toll mounts

On Monday, Israel escalated its military operations in the Gaza Strip, causing growing international concern due to the increasing number of Palestinian civilian casualties in the densely populated and blockaded region.
The return to open warfare after a truce between Israel and Hamas expired has had ripple effects around a region on the cusp of a wider conflagration.
Israel vowed to hit south Gaza – where it had previously forced Palestinians to evacuate – with “no less strength” than the fight that has reduced large parts of north Gaza to a moonscape.

Residents said the military dropped leaflets calling Khan Younis “a dangerous combat zone” and ordering them to move to the border city of Rafah or a coastal area in the southwest.

Halima Abdel-Rahman, a widow and mother of four, told The Associated Press she’s stopped heeding such orders.

She fled her home in October to an area outside Khan Younis, where she stays with relatives.

“The occupation tells you to go to this area, then they bomb it,” she said by phone. “The reality is that no place is safe in Gaza.

They kill people in the north. They kill people in the south.”

Since the expiry of the truce on Friday, Israeli troops have advanced in Gaza and launched dozens of airstrikes on the Palestinian territory.

In return, the militant group has fired rockets towards Israel, most of which had been intercepted.
Over the weekend, Israeli airstrikes on northern Gaza threw thick clouds of smoke and dust into the sky.

Israeli airstrikes hit the entrance of the Kamal Adwan hospital in the north of the territory late Sunday, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Several people were killed in the strike, the news agency said, while Hamas accused Israel on Telegram of a “grave violation” of humanitarian law.

Contacted by AFP, the Israeli military did not immediately comment on the alleged strike.

Israel claims Hamas uses hospitals and other civilian infrastructure for military purposes – an accusation that the militant group denies and international human rights groups have said constitute as a war crime because it is a form of collective punishment.

“The IDF continues to expand its ground operation against main Hamas fronts in the Gaza Strip,” Israel military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Sunday.

  • alarabiya