Scores reported killed in Gaza as fighting shatters Israel-Hamas truce

December 2, 2023 9:41 am

[Source: Reuters]

Israel’s warplanes pounded Gaza on Friday after talks to extend a week-old truce with Hamas collapsed, sending wounded and dead Palestinians into hospitals and forcing hundreds to flee in the streets.

Eastern areas of Khan Younis in southern Gaza came under intense bombardment as the deadline lapsed shortly after dawn, with columns of smoke rising into the sky, Reuters journalists in the city said. Residents took to the road with belongings heaped up in carts, searching for shelter further west.

In the north of the enclave, previously the main war zone, huge plumes of smoke rose above the ruins, seen from across the fence in Israel. The rattle of gunfire and thud of explosions rang out above the sound of barking dogs.

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Sirens blared across southern Israel as militants fired rockets from the coastal enclave into towns. Hamas said it had targeted Tel Aviv, but there were no reports of casualties or damage there.

By the evening, Gaza health officials said Israeli air strikes had killed 184 people, wounded at least 589 others and hit more than 20 houses.

Israel and Hamas accused each other of wrecking the negotiations and triggering the resumption of violence, though the White House singled out the Palestinian militant group, saying it had failed to produce a new list of hostages to release to enable an extension of the truce.

Israel’s military said its ground, air and naval forces had struck more than 200 what it called “terror targets” in the enclave since the morning.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said he had been in one of Israel’s war jets to watch the assault up close. “The results are impressive. Hamas only understands force and therefore we will continue to act until we achieve the goals of the war,” he said.

The U.N. said the fighting would worsen an extreme humanitarian emergency. “Hell on Earth has returned to Gaza,” Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the U.N. humanitarian office in Geneva, said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces had stopped all deliveries of aid into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

COGAT, the Israeli agency for civilian coordination with the Palestinians, said aid agreed under the truce had been stopped but, at Washington’s request, “dozens” of other trucks with water, food and medical supplies had got through to Gaza.

Medics and witnesses said Friday’s bombing was most intense in Khan Younis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where hundreds of thousands of Gazans have been sheltering from fighting further north. Houses in central and northern areas were also hit.

“Anas, my son!” cried the mother of Anas Anwar al-Masri, a boy lying on a stretcher with a head injury in the corridor of Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. “I don’t have anyone but you!”