Gaza Strip: A Palestinian family inspects the damage from the roof, a day after the Israeli bombardment of the Nuseirat refugee camp, on Monday.—AFP
Gaza Strip: A Palestinian family inspects the damage from the roof, a day after the Israeli bombardment of the Nuseirat refugee camp, on Monday.—AFP

GAZA: Israeli forces on Monday attacked Gaza’s main northern city, coming from two sides, as part of a major ground offensive initiated three days earlier. Inside Gaza, the Israeli ground forces fought deadly battles with Hamas fighters.

As the Israeli military reported striking over 600 targets with the death toll on the Palestinian side soaring to 8,306, residents of Gaza and the Hamas-run government’s media office said Israeli tanks had pulled back towards the fortified fence around the besieged enclave.

The Hamas armed wing said intense mortar fire had pushed the tanks back and fellow Islamic Jihad said its fighters were battling Israeli forces there.

While Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he is working to prevent his country from becoming involved in the conflict despite cross-border exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel, the United Nations said all 10 hospitals in northern Gaza had received evacuation orders.

Five killed in West Bank; 10 hospitals receive ‘evacuation order’

In a sign of civil disorder, four UN aid centres and a storage site in Gaza were disrupted, leaving people in dire need of food and water.

Meanwhile, Hamas released a video showing three of the more than 230 people Israel says were seized by the Palestinian group in massive October 7 raids.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named the prisoners as Yelena Trupanov, Daniel Aloni and Rimon Kirsht.

Residents of Gaza said Israeli forces carried out dozens of air strikes on the city’s eastern side, with some reporting the roar of tanks rolling in amid exchanges of fire.

To the west, the coast road was hit several times from the air and sea, residents said.

Additionally, five Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank during an escalation of violence.

The Israeli army cited the encounter with explosive devices during a raid in Jenin and labeled an incursion near Hebron as a “counter-terrorism operation”.

The Palestinian health ministry reported the deaths of four individuals, aged 23 to 28, during the raid in Jenin where over 100 military vehicles and two bulldozers were deployed.

Intensification of assault

Israeli ground forces fought deadly battles with Hamas fighters inside Gaza and sent tanks to the outskirts of the city while air strikes kept raining down on the besieged Palestinian territory. In heavy clashes overnight, the Israeli army claimed it had killed dozens of fighters hiding “inside buildings and tunnels”, and a jet “struck a building with over 20 Hamas operatives inside”.

Columns of Israeli tanks and armoured bulldozers were seen churning through the sand, and Israeli snipers took positions inside emptied residential buildings, in footage released by the army.

Dozens of Israeli tanks advanced for more than an hour into the southern fringes of Gaza City and blocked the main north-south highway, “firing at any vehicle that tries to go along it”, an eyewitness told AFP by phone. Air strikes also cratered the road and brought down buildings, residents said, before the tanks pulled back from the area.

Spiralling crisis in hospitals

According to the UN, all 10 hospitals in northern Gaza have received evacuation orders — despite sheltering thousands of patients and about 117,000 of the displaced.

Among those being treated are intensive care patients, infants and elderly people on life support systems. The head of the WHO said calls to evacuate Al-Quds Hospital were “deeply concerning”.

“We reiterate — it’s impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2023

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