Israeli tanks supported by warplanes and drones advanced deeper into the western part of the city of Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, this Wednesday (19), killing eight people, according to Palestinian residents and doctors.

Residents said tanks reached five neighborhoods after midnight. Heavy shelling and gunfire hit the tents of displaced families in the Al-Mawasi area, further west of the coastal enclave, they said.

Some eight months after the start of the war, there have been no signs of a let-up in the fighting, as the efforts of international mediators, supported by the United States, have so far failed to persuade Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire.

Nine people were also killed on Wednesday when an Israeli strike targeted a group of citizens and traders on the Salah al-Din road in the southern Gaza Strip as they waited for convoys of aid trucks carrying goods through the Gaza Strip. Kerem Shalom, medical sources told Reuters.

Israeli forces have devastated much of Gaza and seized most of Palestinian territory, but have not yet achieved their stated objective of wiping out Hamas and freeing Israeli hostages.

Hamas doctors and media said eight Palestinians were killed in Al-Mawasi and many families fled north in panic. They did not identify the fatal victims and the Israeli military said it was analyzing the report.

Residents said Israeli army forces blew up several homes in western Rafah, which was home to more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people before last month, when Israel began its ground offensive and forced most of the population to flee. drive north.

Some United Nations and Palestinian figures estimate those who remained at fewer than 100,000 people.

“Another night of horror in Rafah. They opened fire from planes, drones and tanks in the western areas to cover up the invasion,” said a Rafah resident, who asked not to be named.

“Bullets and grenades fell in the Mawasi area, close to where people were sleeping, killing and injuring many,” he told Reuters via a chat app.

An Israeli commander briefing military correspondents in Rafah on Tuesday named two more locations – Shaboura and Tel Al-Sultan – where the army planned to engage Hamas fighters.

“Hamas battalions are not yet well worn out and we need to completely dismantle them. We estimate that it will be more or less a month, at this intensity”, said Colonel Liron Batito, head of the Givati ​​Brigade, to Army Radio.

The Israeli military remained in control of the border between Rafah and Egypt. Images circulating on social media showed that the Rafah crossing, the only window for most of Gaza’s population to the outside world, was destroyed, with buildings burned and Israeli tanks positioned there with the Israeli flag flying over some locations.

The Israeli military said aid to Gaza was not impeded by the damage. Further north, Israel sent a column of tanks back into Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, and residents reported heavy fire from tanks and warplanes, as well as the sounds of gunfire with Hamas-led fighters.

In another suburb of Gaza City, Sheikh Radwan, an Israeli airstrike on a house killed four Palestinians, including a child, according to doctors. A total of 20 people were killed in Gaza.

The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said fighters engaged Israeli forces with anti-tank rockets and mortars and, in some areas, detonated pre-planted explosive devices against army units.

Later on Wednesday, Palestinian gunmen fired rockets at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza, according to the Israeli military.

Israel’s ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led militants invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli records.

The offensive left Gaza in ruins, killed more than 37,400 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left much of the population homeless and destitute.

Since the week-long truce in November, repeated attempts to achieve a ceasefire have failed, with Hamas insisting on an end to the war and Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza. Netanyahu refuses to end the war until Hamas is eradicated and the hostages are freed.

On Wednesday, the United Nations human rights office said Israeli forces may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war and failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants in their campaign in Gaza.

In a report assessing six Israeli attacks that caused a high number of casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, the UN Human Rights Office said that Israeli forces “may have systematically violated the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in the attack”.

Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva called the analysis “flawed factually, legally and methodologically.”


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