Israel intensifies offensive in southern Gaza

2023-12-05 08:13:25, Kosova & Bota CNA

Israel intensifies offensive in southern Gaza

The Israeli air force has continued its air and ground offensive in the southern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, despite repeated calls from the United States and the United Nations to protect civilians.

Asked on Monday about the rising death toll since the breakdown of the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, on Friday the US, Israel's closest ally, said it was too early to say whether Israel was doing enough to 'protected civilians.

Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza, has been declared a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

Residents and journalists on the ground have said that Israeli airstrikes in the densely populated south have also included areas where Israel has asked residents to take shelter.

In the United Nations, the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has called on Israel not to take further actions that would further worsen the situation in Gaza.

"The Secretary-General is extremely alarmed by the return of hostilities between Israel and Hamas ... people have been asked to evacuate, there is now no safe place and very little chance of survival," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Israel occupied the northern half of Gaza in November, and is now focusing on the south.

The armed wing of the Hamas-allied Islamic Jihad group said it was engaged in heavy fighting with Israeli soldiers north and east of Khan Yunis, the main southern Gaza city.

Israel has launched a military campaign to destroy Hamas in retaliation for the group's October 7 attacks in southern Israel.

Militants killed 1,200 people and took another 240 hostage.

It is believed that 80 percent of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have already fled their homes.

Eight weeks of fighting have reportedly reduced this enclave to rubble.

Palestinian health authorities have said that at least 15,899 people have been killed as a result of Israeli strikes in Gaza - 70 percent of them women and children.

Thousands more are missing and believed to be dead under the rubble.

Israel accuses Hamas of endangering civilians by operating in residential areas, including tunnels that can only be destroyed with large bombs.

Hamas, on the other hand, rejects the accusations./ REL

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