GAZA: Zionist forces on Wednesday battled Hamas fighters in Gaza’s main southern city, leading to “deepening horror” for civilians, the UN said, after nearly two months of war sparked by deadly attacks on the Zionist entity. Zionist troops, tanks, armored personnel carriers and bulldozers have rolled into Khan Yunis, Gaza’s second-largest city, forcing already displaced civilians to flee again, witnesses told AFP. The military wing of Hamas reported fighting with Zionist forces east of the southern city.
“We are devastated,” said local resident Amal Mahdi who survived an overnight Zionist strike on Khan Yunis. “We need someone to find us a solution so we can get out of this situation.” Much of northern Gaza has already been reduced to rubble by fierce fighting and bombardment, displacing 1.9 million people according to UN figures.
With the Zionist entity now focusing on the south, the streets of Khan Yunis were almost empty early Wednesday as residents sought shelter from shelling and artillery fire, AFP journalists reported, while the dead and wounded continued to pour into the city’s hospitals. The latest toll from the Gaza government’s media office said 16,248 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, had been killed.
The Zionist entity has vowed to destroy Hamas and free 138 captives still held in Gaza after scores were released during a short-lived truce. But mass casualties in Gaza have sparked global concern, heightened by dire shortages caused by a Zionist siege that has seen only limited supplies of food, water, fuel and medicines enter.
“The entire north of the Gaza Strip is left without health services,” said Munir Al-Bursh, director of the health ministry. With mediation efforts seemingly stalled since the collapse of a truce on Friday, the UN human rights chief pleaded for an immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages. “Palestinians in Gaza are living in utter, deepening horror,” Volker Turk told a news conference. “Civilians in Gaza continue to be relentlessly bombarded by (the Zionist entity) and collectively punished... I call for an urgent cessation of hostilities,” he said.
Sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian group, told AFP their fighters were battling Zionist troops early Wednesday in a bid to prevent them from breaking into Khan Yunis. The Hamas media office said dozens were killed and injured in heavy strikes east of the city. Many civilians fled to Khan Yunis when the Zionist entity ordered them to evacuate the north of the densely populated Gaza Strip earlier in the offensive.
Hassan Al-Qadi, a Khan Yunis resident displaced to Rafah, said “the whole city is suffering from destruction and relentless shelling”. “Many are homeless and some are searching for their missing children,” he said. International aid groups have condemned the succession of orders to flee from one area to another, saying civilians were running out of options.
The Zionist entity’s army has published a map it said was intended to enable Gazans to “evacuate from specific places for their safety if required”. But the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said it was “not possible” to create safe zones in a tiny territory with some 2.4 million people.
Fighting resumed after the collapse on Friday of a Qatar-mediated truce that saw scores of Zionist and other captives released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. The war has sparked fears of a wider regional conflict, with near-daily exchanges of fire with Iran-backed Hezbollah across the Zionist entity’s border with Lebanon and a surge of deadly violence in the occupied West Bank.
On Wednesday, the Zionist entity said a missile fired at the Red Sea town of Eilat “was successfully intercepted” after sirens blared in the resort. In the West Bank, Zionist troops raided the northern Faraa refugee camp early Wednesday, sparking clashes that killed two people, one of them aged 16, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Palestinian authorities say more than 250 Palestinians have been killed during the current conflict by Zionist fire or settler attacks in the West Bank, which the Zionist entity has occupied since 1967.