Israel orders evacuation as it attacks Gaza City: Live updates

Israel ordered residents in an eastern part of Gaza City to evacuate on Thursday as Palestinian officials and residents reported heavy attacks and multiple casualties. People in the area described frantic efforts to escape as explosions rang out around them.

The Israeli military said it could not immediately comment on the attacks, which Palestinian officials said occurred. Shajaiye neighborhood, an area that was already heavily devastated and was the focus of intense fighting early in the war. Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, reported that the army was conducting a ground operation to destroy Hamas based on intelligence that the armed group had begun to restore control in the neighborhood. .

A human rights organization witness said there were Israeli tanks on the outskirts of the neighborhood.

This operation, if confirmed, would be the latest such incident by Israeli forces return to parts of Gaza which they had previously left, especially in the north of the region, as Hamas regrouped amid the chaos the nine-month war had caused. The fighting continued even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke The war will soon move into a less tense phase.and growing frustration within Israel and globally over what critics say is Netanyahu’s failure to come up with a plan for how to govern Gaza after Hamas.

Gazan health authorities said Thursday that 15 people were killed and dozens injured in Shajaiye. The Civil Defense Authority, Palestine’s emergency agency, said five houses had been attacked in Shajaiye and another nearby area, and a search was underway for missing people. Casualty figures could not be independently verified and Gazan authorities do not distinguish between civilians and combatants when reporting casualty figures.

An injured Palestinian boy is being treated at a hospital in Gaza City on Thursday.Credit…Dawoud Abu Alkas/Reuters

The witness, Mohammed Qraiqea, a researcher with the advocacy group Euro-Med Human Rights Watch who was in Shajaiye on Thursday, said that the shelling, occasional airstrikes and machine gun fire Drone flying continued into the afternoon.

“So far, the tanks have made limited advances on the outskirts of the neighborhood,” he said on Thursday afternoon. “But now most people have evacuated,” due to heavy bombing, he added.

The Israeli army invaded northern Gaza in October following a Hamas-led offensive in Israel, seizing territory and pushing south as it took Hamas strongholds, but they have yet to defeat the armed group. decisively. Shajaiye, one of Gaza City’s largest neighborhoods, is home to a battalion considered the strongest in Hamas’s military wing. It’s unclear how big the Hamas presence is there.

Hamas has taken advantage of urban areas in Gaza to provide an extra layer of protection for its militants and weapons infrastructure, running tunnels under residential areas, launching rockets near homes and capturing children. news in the city center. Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, said that the group tries to keep Palestinian civilians from harm.

Shajaiye is a place of fierce fighting at the beginning of the war. In December, nine Israeli soldiers were killed there, in what the Israeli military reported as one of the deadliest days of the war for its forces.

In recent months, some residents have returned to Shajaiye as Israeli forces shifted their focus to southern Gaza. Mohammad al-Bahrawi, 65, who returned with his family to their home in Shajaiye in March, was forced to flee again on Thursday due to the strikes. He said he saw the crowd leave “like a flood.”

“I can’t even believe that there are still so many people in Shajaiye,” he added.

Mr. al-Bahrawi said he was not aware of the Israeli evacuation order that the military posted on social media on Thursday.

“We escaped by the mercy of God,” he said, adding that “we heard explosions from all directions.”

As the sound of the explosions seemed to subside, Mr. al-Bahrawi walked with his wife and children to the courtyard of Ahli Arab Hospital, seeing the wounded being pulled out from under the rubble along the way.

At the hospital, they “just sat there until God helped us and we found an apartment to live in,” he said.

Myra Noveck Contributed reporting from Jerusalem.


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