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Israeli Forces Intensify Operation In Gaza City Amidst Conflict

Israeli forces have launched a major operation deep into Gaza City’s largest neighborhoods, aiming to root out militants in a move that has forced thousands of Palestinians to flee amid ongoing conflict. The incursion, targeting the eastern part of Gaza City, represents a significant escalation in Israel’s engagement within the northern Gaza Strip, an area […]

Israeli Forces Intensify Operation In Gaza City Amidst Conflict
Israeli Forces Intensify Operation In Gaza City Amidst Conflict

Israeli forces have launched a major operation deep into Gaza City’s largest neighborhoods, aiming to root out militants in a move that has forced thousands of Palestinians to flee amid ongoing conflict. The incursion, targeting the eastern part of Gaza City, represents a significant escalation in Israel’s engagement within the northern Gaza Strip, an area previously claimed to be under Israeli control but witnessing pockets of militant resurgence.

The operation, which began with ordered evacuations, has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, where earlier phases of the nine-month-long war had devastated much of the urban landscape and displaced the majority of the territory’s 2.3 million inhabitants. Despite initial heavy fighting that had emptied out parts of Gaza City, several hundred thousand Palestinians remain, living amidst the ruins of their homes or in shelters.

“We fled in the darkness amid heavy strikes,” recounted Sayeda Abdel-Baki, sheltering in the Daraj neighborhood, highlighting the trauma of recurring displacements. Reports from residents described artillery fire, tank shelling, and airstrikes, though casualty figures from the Gaza Health Ministry and Hamas-run Civil Defense were initially unavailable due to the intensity of the clashes.

The Israeli military justified the operation citing intelligence indicating militant presence, including from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, along with weapons caches and infrastructure. The military also claimed that a UNRWA facility was being used by militants, though evidence was not provided. The offensive comes amidst diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire, with Hamas reportedly softening its demand for a definitive end to hostilities, instead focusing on guarantees for negotiations leading to a permanent ceasefire.

As airstrikes and ground operations intensified, civilians not under evacuation orders in Gaza City’s Zaytoun neighborhood also fled in fear, reflecting widespread anxiety over the proximity of bombings and gunfire. Maha Mahfouz, who fled with her children, expressed panic despite her area not being included in evacuation directives, underscoring the pervasive fear gripping residents.

The conflict, which erupted with a surprise cross-border raid by Hamas in October, has exacted a heavy toll, claiming over 38,000 lives according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The devastation has sparked a humanitarian crisis, with critical infrastructure in ruins and essential services severely strained.

Amidst international mediation efforts involving the United States, Qatar, and Egypt, the path to a ceasefire remains fraught with challenges. Israel continues to resist terms that could leave Hamas operational capability intact, while disagreements persist over the release of high-profile prisoners held by Israel.

The situation in Gaza continues to evolve rapidly, with civilians caught in the crossfire enduring immense suffering. The latest escalation underscores the urgent need for international intervention to halt the violence and alleviate humanitarian distress in one of the world’s most protracted and devastating conflicts.

As casualties mount and displacement persists, the prospect of peace remains elusive, leaving Gazans grappling with the harsh realities of ongoing conflict and uncertain futures.

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