GAZA: The streets of Khan Yunis were empty on Wednesday morning as residents tried to take shelter from shelling and artillery fire, said reporters, while the dead and wounded continued to pour into the city’s hospitals.
Residents said Israeli bombing intensified overnight, killing and wounding civilians in the north and east of Khan Yunis. Palestinian medics said hospitals were overflowing with dead and wounded, many of them women and children, and supplies were running out.
Some Palestinians described lucky escapes after their homes were destroyed in an overnight air strike on the Al-Amal neighbourhood of Khan Yunis.
“I swear we don’t even know how we made it out alive,” said Hamdi Tanira, describing an attack on a house where he said he and about 30 others were sleeping, including 20 children.
• Death toll rises over 16,000; six killed in Nuseirat refugee camp • Israeli major general killed during combat
“We were peacefully sleeping, not bothering anyone,” said another survivor, Amal Mehdi. “All of a sudden, the bombardment hit us, you wouldn’t know where it came from, it was a miracle that we were pulled from under the rubble.” “We need someone to find us a solution so we can get out of this situation,” he added.
The health ministry said air strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza killed at least six people and wounded 14 others. But since Oct 7, Israeli air strikes and a ground offensive that have killed more than 16,200 people, mostly women and children, according to the government.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of displaced people driven out of the north were seeking shelter in the dwindling number of places in the south designated as safe areas by Israel.
Hassan Al-Qadi, a displaced Khan Yunis resident, said “the whole city is suffering from destruction and relentless shelling. “Many people arriving from northern Gaza are facing dire circumstances. Many are homeless and some are searching for their missing children.”
“We are not mere numbers. We are human beings,” he said, speaking in the southern city of Rafah.
In addition, Hamas reported fighting with Israeli forces in Khan Yunis. Sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad said their fighters were battling Israeli troops in a bid to prevent them from breaking into Khan Yunis and surrounding areas.
Israeli military claimed several Hamas commanders were killed in an air strike near the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza. It also claimed that it had struck about 250 targets in Gaza over the past 24 hours and that troops had found a major arms depot “in the heart of a civilian population”.
“One of the largest weapons depots in the Gaza Strip was found near a clinic and school” in an undisclosed location in northern Gaza, it claimed. The Israeli military also said that Major-General Adi Shani was killed during combat in the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the occupied West Bank has also seen an upsurge in violence by Israeli forces. Israeli troops raided Faraa refugee camp in the north of the territory early on Wednesday, that killed two Palestinians, one of them aged 16, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Since Oct 7 more than 250 people have been killed in the West Bank, according to Palestinian authorities.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2023