RELATIVES carry a picture of Sally Skaiki during her funeral in Deir Kanoun. She was killed in an Israeli strike on the Lebanese village of Jannata, on Friday.—AFP
RELATIVES carry a picture of Sally Skaiki during her funeral in Deir Kanoun. She was killed in an Israeli strike on the Lebanese village of Jannata, on Friday.—AFP

• 19 Palestinians killed as fears of broader ME conflict grow
• Islamic Jihad links prisoners’ release to troops’ withdrawal

JERUSALEM: Eight Israeli soldiers were killed in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, the military said, as forces continued to push in and around the southern city of Rafah and strikes hit several areas of Gaza, killing at least 19 Palestinians.

Earlier, the armed wing of Hamas said fighters had ambushed an armoured personnel carrier, killing and wounding a number of Israeli soldiers, in the Tel Al-Sultan area in the west of Rafah, where Israeli forces have been advancing for weeks.

Israeli tanks advanced in Tel Al-Sultan and shells landed in the coastal area, where thousands of Palestinians, many of them displaced several times already, have sought refuge.

In Israeli air strikes on two houses in Gaza City suburbs, residents said at least 15 people were killed. Four others were killed in separate attacks in the south, medics said.

The Israeli military on Saturday said its forces in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, close to the border with Egypt, had captured large quantities of weapons, both above ground and concealed in the extensive tunnel network built by Hamas.

The Islamic Jihad armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades, said on Saturday Israel could only regain its prisoners in Gaza if it ended the war and pulled out forces from the enclave. A spokesman for Al-Quds Brigades made the remarks in a video posted on Telegram.

Broader ME conflict

Since the war began after Hamas’s unprecedented Oct 7 attack, Israeli forces have killed at least 37,266 people in Gaza, mostly civilians.

The fallout from the war brought a resurgence of tensions to the Lebanon border and Yemen. Fears of a broader Middle East conflict have surged again, with Lebanon-based Hezbollah fighters, who are backed by Iran and allied with Hamas, launching waves of rockets and drones against Israeli military targets.

Hezbollah said intense strikes since Wednesday were retaliation for Israel’s killing of one of its commanders.

Israeli forces responded with shelling, the military said, also announcing air strikes on Hezbollah infrastructure across the border.

Two women were killed in a strike on Jannata in southern Lebanon, village official Hassan Shur said, the latest deaths in near-daily exch­anges of fire between Hezbollah and the Israeli military since the Gaza war began. On Friday plumes of smoke still billowed over the village.

World Food Programme deputy executive director Carl Skau said that “with lawlessness inside the Strip… and active conflict”, it has become “close to impossible to deliver the level of aid that meets the growing demands on the ground”.

“More than anything, people want this war to end,” he said after a two-day visit to Gaza.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2024

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