AMRITSAR: An Indian fuel station employee counts 500 rupee notes as motorists queue at a fuel station in Amritsar yesterday. — AFP
AMRITSAR: An Indian fuel station employee counts 500 rupee notes as motorists queue at a fuel station in Amritsar yesterday. — AFP

India's shock banknote ban sparks chaos

Zionists seize West Bank land, kill 5 Palestinians • Hezb retaliates after commander killed

GAZA: Zionist forces bombed and battled Hamas in Gaza City on Wednesday as tens of thousands of Palestinians scrambled for a safe haven after the army issued an evacuation order for a vast swathe of the territory’s south. Apache helicopters and Zionist quadcopter drones flew above Gaza City’s Shujaiya district as heavy gunfire echoed through the streets, AFP reporters said.

Meanwhile, the Zionist entity has approved its biggest land seizure in the occupied West Bank in more than three decades, a move criticized by activists on Wednesday as detrimental to Palestinian peace hopes. The 12.7-sq-km of land in the Jordan Valley was officially declared “state property” in June, according to an official declaration obtained by AFP after being revealed by the Peace Now group.

“The size of the area designated for declaration is the largest since the (1993) Oslo Accords, and the year 2024 marks a peak in the extent of declarations of state land,” Peace Now said. The Zionist government has seized a total of 23.7 sq km in the West Bank since the start of the year, it said. When land is declared “state property”, Palestinians lose private ownership rights and are barred from using it, Peace Now said.

Zionist forces also killed five Palestinians in two military operations in the occupied West Bank where tensions have risen because of the Gaza war. One night-time air strike killed four men at a refugee camp near the town of Tulkarm, which has seen a surge in violence as the Zionist entity has intensified raids. The Palestinian Authority health ministry said the four were “killed as a result of the occupation’s bombing of Nur Shams camp”. According to the Palestinian official news agency Wafa, the dead, aged 20 to 25, were killed by a drone near the center of the camp.

One man was killed by Zionist fire in a separate Zionist operation in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement, while a Zionist soldier was killed and a second person wounded in a stabbing attack in a Zionist mall on Wednesday, in which the assailant was shot dead. On Monday, a woman and child were killed in a Zionist raid in Nur Shams, according to Palestinian officials. Four others were wounded.

Separately, Hezbollah said it fired more than 100 rockets at Zionist positions on Wednesday in retaliation for a strike that killed a senior commander in Lebanon, the movement’s second such loss in recent weeks. Hezbollah has traded near daily cross-border fire with the Zionist army since its Palestinian ally Hamas attacked the Zionist entity on Oct 7.

The Iran-backed group said “commander Mohammed Naameh Nasser”, also known as “Hajj Abu Naameh” had been killed, and also announced the death of a second fighter. In a statement, Hezbollah said that “as part of the response to the attack and assassination that the enemy carried out” in south Lebanon’s Tyre, its fighters attacked two positions in the Zionist-annexed Syrian Golan Heights “with 100

Katyusha rockets”. The militant group also claimed another retaliatory attack with “Falaq rockets” on a base in the Zionist entity’s north.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a US media report saying his generals were urging a Gaza truce even with Hamas undefeated, stressing on Tuesday that “this will not happen”. The United Nations warned that the almost nine-month-old Gaza war had “unleashed a maelstrom of human misery” and that the latest evacuation order had plunged yet more Palestinians into “an abyss of suffering”.

Ten days after Netanyahu said the war’s “intense phase” was winding down, the Zionist military again rained down air strikes and artillery fire on militants in the Shujaiya district. Thousands have fled the fighting in Shujaiya, among them Umm Bashar Al-Jamal, 42, who was now sheltering in Gaza City’s Yarmouk sports stadium. “We were displaced five days ago,” she said. “We fled from Shujaiya. We woke up to the sound of tanks. The houses were bulldozed. All our homes!”

The Zionist army — which issued an evacuation order for Shujaiya a week ago — on Monday did the same for a larger area near Khan Yunis and Rafah in the south, raising fears of renewed heavy battles there. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have again taken to the road, many bundling their scant belongings on top of cars or donkey carts as they sought safety elsewhere in the bombed-

The UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said 250,000 people had been affected by the latest evacuation order that covers southern areas bordering the Zionist entity and Egypt. Almost all patients in the European Gaza Hospital and the Red Cross field hospital decided to flee following the evacuation order, the World Health Organization said.

Though the European Gaza Hospital itself is not under evacuation instructions, the order has impacted operations. “Now only three patients remain at the European Gaza Hospital and three at the ICRC field hospital,” the WHO said, citing figures from Tuesday. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the southern evacuation order covers 117 sq km, “making it the largest such order since October”.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the war had now displaced 80 percent of Gaza’s population. She also said not enough aid was reaching the besieged territory and that crossings must be reopened, particularly to southern Gaza, to avert a humanitarian disaster. “Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been plunged into an abyss of suffering, their home lives shattered, their lives upended,” she said. “The war has not merely created the most profound of humanitarian crises. It has unleashed a maelstrom of human misery.”

The Zionist offensive has killed at least 37,953 people, mostly women and children, according to figures from Gaza’a health ministry. The Gaza civil defense agency said seven people were killed when a strike hit a family house north of Gaza City. Another strike killed three people in a car at Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Deir al-Balah area, an AFP reporter said. – Agencies

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