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Israel launched a new military campaign in the Central region

EPA Displaced Palestinians flee the Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip, after the start of an Israeli military ground operation EPA

Palestinian families have begun to flee the Bureij camp and surrounding areas

The Israeli army said it had begun a ground operation against Hamas in the Bureij refugee camp and east of the town of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said soldiers supported by airstrikes were targeting “terrorists and terrorist infrastructure on and below the ground.”

The charity Médecins Sans Frontières said at least 70 dead and 300 injured, mostly women and children, had been taken to hospital in Deir al-Balah since Tuesday.

It comes as US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators meet in Doha and Cairo to discuss how to finalize a new ceasefire and hostage release agreement.

On Tuesday, the United States said it was still waiting for a response from Hamas to what it described as an Israeli proposal. outlined by US President Joe Biden last week.

Qatar said it had passed the plan to Hamas representatives and noted that it was also waiting for a clear position from the Israeli government.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday the group would deal “seriously and positively” with the proposal based on an end to the war and a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

The Israeli Prime Minister affirmed that he will not agree to a permanent ceasefire before Hamas is defeated and the hostages the group is holding are released. And on Wednesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that “all negotiations with Hamas will be conducted under fire”.

Israel launched a military operation in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7, which left about 1,200 people dead and 251 others captured. hostage.

According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, at least 36,580 people have been killed in Gaza since then.

Bureij is one of the eight smallest historic refugee camps in Gaza. It covers an area of ​​0.5 square kilometers (0.2 square miles) and had 46,000 residents registered with the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) before the war.

The camp is located just south of the Wadi Gaza riverbed and the IDF’s “Central Gaza Corridor” – an area of ​​land controlled by Israeli forces that runs east to west from the border with Israel to the Mediterranean Sea, dividing Gaza in two. .

Nuseirat and Maghazi refugee camps are also located near Bureij, while the town of Deir al-Balah is about 5km (3 miles) southwest.

The four areas are now crowded with people displaced by fighting elsewhere, including many of the more than a million people who have fled the southern city of Rafah since the start of the war. Israeli ground operations was there a month ago.

Earlier this year, IDF troops carried out an operation on the ground against Hamas militants in camps in central Gaza that lasted several weeks.

On Wednesday, the IDF said the new “targeted” operation in Bureij and eastern Deir al-Balah aimed to destroy “terrorist infrastructure located several kilometers above and below the border with Israel” .

The organization’s statement added: “The operation began with a series of airstrikes targeting terrorist targets, including military sites, weapons depots and underground infrastructure.” .

Later, the IDF released a new statement announcing that the army had “gained operational control” in eastern Bureij and eastern Deir al-Balah. It added that they had “eliminated terrorists” in the area, destroyed rocket and mortar launchers, and identified several tunnel bunkers.

EPA Smoke rises after an Israeli attack on a building in the Bureij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip in April 2024EPA

The Israeli army said it was targeting “terrorists and terrorist infrastructure”

A man from Bureij told BBC Arabic’s Gaza Today program that his family fled the camp as Israeli bombardment intensified on Tuesday.

“We are surprised that the army is conducting a ground operation in Bureij,” he said. “We were attacked by artillery shells falling from all sides, falling on people’s houses, on the streets… leading to the deaths of several citizens.”

“The situation in general is extremely difficult,” he added. “We left our homes to save our lives and that of our children.”

“Debris fell on our house and fell on some apartments in our building… We survived because we were all on the lower floors,” said a young woman.

“We were in a residential building with about 40 people, some were residents of the building itself and others were evacuees from the north and south, in Rafah… Now we Where should we go from Bureij? ”

On Wednesday morning, Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted medical and rescue workers as saying at least 11 people were killed in Israeli airstrikes on several homes in Maghazi overnight.

Two other people were killed in an attack on a house near the entrance to Bureij, while two others were killed by artillery fire in the Abu al-Ajen area, southeast of Deir al-Balah, it said .

Later, Médecins Sans Frontières said its medical team at the scene described the situation at Deir al-Balah’s al-Aqsa hospital – one of the only remaining functional medical facilities in the center. center of Gaza – is “the end of the world”.

The charity said women and children made up the majority of the 70 dead and 300 injured taken to hospital in the past 24 hours and many patients suffered severe burns, shrapnel wounds, broken bones and other injuries.

“The smell of blood when I entered the emergency room [this morning] just overwhelming. Everyone is lying on the floor. People were lying around outside… the bodies were put in white plastic bags. The families stood by them and prayed,” Karin Huster, MSF medical specialist, said in an audio message.

“It was just such an emotional situation. No one could have coped.”

Reuters A man carries an injured Palestinian medical worker in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on June 4, 2024Reuters

The casualties are being taken to hospital in Deir al-Balah

At the start of operations in Rafah on May 6, the IDF asked civilians to evacuate to an “extended humanitarian zone” stretching from the al-Mawasi coastal area to Deir al-Balah, where they said knew they would find tents, field hospitals and military supplies.

But Unrwa warned Monday that space for displaced families in Deir al-Balah is “running out as people continue to arrive hoping for safety where there is none.”

“Living conditions are completely unsuitable for families and vital services, and supplies are limited,” the agency said.

The IDF also said Wednesday that the military was continuing “targeted operations” in Rafah. They added that they had “located weapons and killed armed terrorists” without providing further details.

Residents told Reuters that Israeli tanks launched attacks on central Rafah and advanced further west before retreating to the eastern and southern areas.

According to the United Nations, in addition to displacing civilians, the operation in Rafah also caused the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza to decrease by two-thirds.

Egypt has closed the nearby Rafah border crossing since Israeli forces took control of the Gaza side nearly a month ago, and the United Nations has said access to the nearby Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel is too dangerous.

“In Gaza, delivering aid is almost impossible,” outgoing United Nations humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told reporters on Tuesday. “We need to open all border crossings. We need safe and unhindered access. We need to prioritize humanitarian aid.”

He said later A group of independent experts warns in a report that famine is “possible, if not likely,” in northern Gaza.. However, the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said hostility and limited access had hindered the collection of data to prove it.

A United Nations-backed assessment estimated in March that 1.1 million people across Gaza were facing catastrophic famine and that famine was imminent in the north by May. Israel disputed the report. report, saying it contained factual and methodological errors.

Satellite data maps damage in central Gaza (June 1)


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