CAIRO: Israeli forces pounded Gaza City early on Monday and columns of tanks advanced into the heart of the city from different directions in what residents said was ‘one of the heaviest attacks’ since October last year.

The Gaza Civil Emergency Service said it believed dozens of people were killed but emergency teams were unable to reach them because of ongoing offensives in Daraj and Tuffah in the east and Tel Al-Hawa, Sabra, and Rimal further west.

At least 38,193 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in the military offensive and 87,903 have been wounded, Gaza’s health ministry said in an update on Monday. A total of 40 Palestinians were killed in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.

Israeli tanks had so far been stationed in some areas of Tel Al-Hawa and Sabra but hadn’t advanced deep into the three other districts, which residents said had been bombed throughout the night into the early morning hours. Several multi-floor buildings have been destroyed, they added.

One of the Israeli tank thrusts, residents said, was from an eastern direction, pushing people towards the western road near the Mediterranean.

“The enemy is behind us and the sea is in front of us, where we will we go?” said Abdel-Ghani, a resident of Gaza City. “Tank shells and missiles from the planes are falling on the roads and houses like hell from a volcano. People are running in all directions and no one knows where to go,” he told Reuters via a chat app.

However, the Israeli forces claimed they had been mounting an “operation against militant infrastructure” in the Gaza Strip.

Residents said tanks advanced from at least three directions and reached the heart of Gaza City, backed by heavy Israeli fire from the air and ground. That forced thousands of people out of their homes to look for safer shelter, which for many was impossible to find, and some slept on the roadside.

Medics at Al-Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital had to evacuate patients to the already crowded Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, officials said.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2024

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