Israel war cabinet member Benny Gantz quits as Gaza conflict rages

Israel continues to attack central Gaza, Palestinian death toll in hostage rescue attack rises to 274

CAIRO: Israeli forces attacked central Gaza again on Sunday, a day after killing 274 Palestinians in a hostage rescue attack, and tanks advanced further into Rafah in an apparent attempt to seal off part of the southern city, residents and media reported. Hamas.

Palestinians were left in shock by Saturday’s death toll, the worst 24-hour period of the Gaza war in months and including many women and children, Palestinian doctors said.

The Gaza Health Ministry announced on Sunday that 274 Palestinians were killed – down from 210 as reported on Saturday – and 698 wounded when Israeli special forces commandos stormed the densely populated Al-Nuseirat camp to rescue four hostages held by Hamas since October. militants.

Sixty-four of the dead were children and 57 were women, the Hamas-run Gaza government’s media office said on Sunday.

Israel’s military said a special forces officer was killed in an exchange of fire with militants who emerged from cover in apartment blocks, and that it knew of “fewer than 100” Palestinians killed, but not how many of them were fighters. or civilians.

In central Gaza on Sunday, separate Israeli airstrikes on houses in the town of Deir Al-Balah and nearby Al-Burei killed three Palestinians in each location, while tanks shelled parts of Al-Nuseirat and Al-Maghazi, medics said.

Al-Maghazi, Al-Nuseirat and Al-Bureij are historic, urbanized refugee camps often caught in the current war.

The Israeli military said in a statement that its forces continued operations east of Al-Burei and Deir Al-Balah, killing a number of Palestinian gunmen and destroying militant infrastructure.

Israel sent forces to Rafah in May in what it called a mission to wipe out the last intact Hamas fighters after an eight-month war in which Israeli forces bombed much of the rest of Gaza into rubble as they advanced against stiff resistance from the militants in overcrowded towns and built-up camps .

Israeli tank forces have since seized Gaza’s entire border strip with Egypt, which runs through the Rafah to the Mediterranean coast, and have stormed many districts of the city of 280,000, forcing around a million displaced people who took refuge in the Rafah to flee elsewhere.

ISRAELI TANKS ADVANCE IN RAFAH

On Sunday, tanks advanced into two new districts in an apparent bid to complete the encirclement of the entire eastern side of Rafah, sparking clashes with entrenched Hamas-led armed groups, residents trapped in their homes said.

All but about 100,000 displaced people who took refuge in the eastern Rafah after fleeing Israeli offensives further north in Gaza left on June 5, according to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

“All the UNRWA shelters in Rafa have been emptied. Many people who were based in Rafah fled up the coast and sought safer locations in Khan Younis and the central area (of Gaza),” UNRWA said in a statement.

Palestinian doctors announced that two people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house in Tel Al-Sultan in West Rafah.

The Israeli army said troops of its 162nd division were attacking some districts of Rafah, where they found “numerous additional terrorist tunnels, mortars and (other) weapons” belonging to Palestinian Islamist militants.

Hamas precipitated the war with a flash cross-border attack on Israel on October 7 last year, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli figures. During the short truce in November, about half of the hostages were freed.

At least 37,084 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s war and the ensuing ground war in Gaza, the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry said in a news release on Sunday. The ministry says several thousand dead are believed to be buried under the rubble.

Attempts by the US and regional countries to reach a deal that would release all remaining hostages in exchange for a ceasefire have repeatedly been met with intransigence by Israel and Hamas on terms to end the war.

As the war has dragged on, a humanitarian disaster has unfolded, with more than three-quarters of Gaza’s 2.3 million people displaced, malnutrition widespread and basic infrastructure in ruins.

The conflict in Gaza has destabilized the wider Middle East and drawn in Hamas’ main backer Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, which has been clashing with Israel along its northern border for months, raising fears of an all-out war.

Concerns over escalating hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah and a sharp drop in expectations of a Gaza ceasefire have weakened the Israeli shekel by 3 percent to 3.75 to the dollar since June 4.

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