Israeli offensive intensifies in Gaza; no safe havens to evacuatetext_fields
The Israeli military has expanded its offensive in southern and central Gaza, marking some of the fiercest clashes in the conflict, resulting in the bombing of homes sheltering displaced Palestinians, strikes on refugee camps, and a dire situation where there are no safe havens for the thousands of people, who have been on the move for weeks.
From early Wednesday morning, “under heavy aerial bombardment, Israeli tanks started pushing deeper and deeper to the centre of Khan Younis city, coming from the eastern side, forcing hundreds of people to flee the area”, reports Al Jazeera.
“Everybody thought the eastern areas of Khan Younis were the main target, as the leaflets that were dropped on the residents stated, but it seems like the entire city of Khan Younis is under heavy bombardment right now,” said Hani Mahmoud, a journalist with Al Jazeera.
The leaflets dropped by Israeli forces ordered residents to evacuate.
Israel's military is reportedly preparing for days of intense battles in Khan Younis, considering it a crucial Hamas stronghold where many leaders may be stationed. However, the forces must proceed cautiously due to concerns about the potential presence of numerous captives, reports Al Jazeera.
“It’s all part of a plan to move the operation further south. We’re likely to see [the Israeli military’s] intense operation extend four or five weeks until the middle of January,” said Alan Fisher, as quoted by Al Jazeera. The next few days could bring the heaviest fighting of the two-month war, he added.
“After this point, there are no options for Palestinians to go anywhere. The only option that might be feasible or even possible for Palestinians is crossing into Egypt, but with the current situation, it seems very, very difficult”, said Mahmoud.
“Under heavy bombardment, people were being pushed first into the central part [of Gaza], then Khan Younis, and now Rafah,” he said, adding that “more than 1.5 million people have been squeezed into this pocket of land that’s really populated with people”.
Non-stop explosions, artillery shelling and clashes were also reported in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza through the night with multiple homes bombed.
The number of wounded being brought to the hospital is overwhelming, posing challenges for medical professionals, who are struggling to save everyone. The conditions are also very severe with food supply already dwindling, particularly since the central region has been cut off from the south. Relief organizations have expressed concern over supplies being perilously low.
Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) in French, warned that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah was running out of options.
“There are 700 patients admitted in the hospital now, with new patients arriving all the time,” MSF emergency coordinator Marie-Aure Perreaut Revial said. “We are running out of essential supplies to treat them,” reports Al Jazeera.
At least 16,248 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7. In Israel, the official death toll stands at about 1,200.