Saturday , July 13 2024

Israeli forces step up attacks across Gaza

22-06-2024

JERUSALEM/ GAZA CITY: The Israeli military pounded Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip even as it intensified its attacks in the north and centre of the besieged Palestinian territory.

Residents said Israeli forces seemed to be trying to complete their capture of Rafah, the city on the enclave’s southern edge that has been the focus of a fierce assault since early May.

Tanks were forcing their way into the western and northern parts of the city, having already captured the east, south and centre.

Israeli forces fired from planes, tanks and ships off the coast, forcing a new wave of displacement from the city, which had been sheltering more than a million displaced people, most of whom have been forced to flee again.

Palestinian health officials said at least 12 Palestinians had been killed in separate Israeli military strikes on Friday.

The Israeli military said on Friday its forces were conducting “precise, intelligence-based” actions in the Rafah area, where troops were involved in close-quarters combat and had located tunnels used by Palestinian group Hamas.

Some Rafah residents said the pace of the Israeli raid had accelerated in the past two days. They said the sounds of explosions and gunfire were almost non-stop.

“Last night was one of the worst nights in western Rafah. Drones, planes, tanks, and naval boats bombarded the area. We feel the occupation is trying to complete the control of the city,” said Hatem, 45, reached by text message.

“The entire city of Rafah is an area of Israeli military operations,” Ahmed al-Sofi, the mayor of Rafah, said. “The city lives through a humanitarian catastrophe and people are dying inside their tents because of Israeli bombardment.”

Palestinian and United Nations figures show that fewer than 100,000 people may have remained in the far western side of the city, which had been sheltering more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people before the Israeli offensive began in May.

Injuries have been reported after Israeli shelling targeted the vicinity of tents housing displaced people west of Gaza’s city of Rafah.

Israeli tanks push deeper into western Rafah in south Gaza, firing shells at displaced people’s tents, with one armored vehicle blown up by a Hamas-planted improvised explosive device.

The White House has described Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the suspension of one US weapons delivery to Israel as “vexing” and “disappointing” as the public rift between the two allies intensifies.

Israeli forces have carried out deadly air attacks across Gaza over the past 24 hours, including a strike on a home that has killed eight people in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood.

United Nations experts have warned arms manufacturers against transferring weapons to Israel, saying they could be complicit in violations of international law carried out in Gaza. At least 37,431 people have been killed and 85,653 wounded in Israel’s war on Gaza since October 7. The death toll in Israel from the Hamas-led attacks stands at 1,139, with dozens of people still held captive in Gaza.

The situation remains tense on the Lebanon-Israel border. Israel has been saying it is preparing for a wider conflict.

There is a lot of concern that the situation, which is still largely contained, could expand and widen into a much larger war.

What Hezbollah has been trying to do in recent weeks is to gradually unveil its new arsenal and show its capabilities. This is part of its strategy of deterrence. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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