Israeli troops push deep into Gaza's southern city of Khan Younis

January 19, 2024 12:00 pm

[Source: BBC]

Israel says its troops have reached the southernmost area of Khan Younis, as they expand their operations in the Gaza Strip’s second-biggest city.

The military announced that dozens of Palestinian fighters from Hamas had been killed in “close-quarter combat”.

Armed groups also reported clashes in the area, while health officials said 172 people had been killed across Gaza.

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Meanwhile, Israel’s president said he was praying that medicines delivered to the Strip would reach Israeli hostages.

Qatar said on Wednesday night that the supplies had arrived via the border crossing with Egypt, along with a shipment of humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians, under an agreement it had brokered between Israel and Hamas.

A spokesman for Qatar’s foreign ministry told CNN on Thursday that there was every likelihood that the medicines had reached the hostages, but that it would be difficult to confirm because of a near-total communication blackout.

Majid al-Ansari also said that Palestinian health authorities had been tasked with handing over the medication, rather than a neutral intermediary like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“The security situation is certainly not easy. It would be very difficult to involve the Red Cross or any other organisation at the moment,” he added.

The ICRC also stated that the “mechanism that was agreed to does not involve the ICRC playing any part in its implementation”.

The medicines are supposed to be delivered to some 45 of the more than 100 Israeli hostages in Gaza, who are reported to be suffering from chronic diseases or in need of other life-saving drugs.

On Thursday, President Isaac Herzog was among the many Israelis who marked the first birthday of the youngest hostage, Kfir Bibas. Hamas has claimed the baby was killed in an Israeli air strike, along with his four-year-old brother Ariel and their mother Shiri in November. without providing evidence.

“His whereabouts are unknown,” Mr Herzog said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, sitting next to a photograph of the infant. “I call upon the entire universe to work endlessly to free Kfir and all the hostages.”

Hamas gunmen took about 250 people hostage and killed 1,300 others