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Israel intensifies strikes across Gaza, orders new evacuations in north

April 23, 2024 at 4:38 pm

Smoke billows after Israeli army launched an airstrike on Al Mughraqa area in Gaza Strip, on April 14, 2024. [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

Israeli strikes intensified across Gaza today in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks, residents said, and the army ordered fresh evacuations in the north of the Strip, warning civilians they were in a “dangerous combat zone”, Reuters reports.

Strikes by air and shelling from tanks on the ground were also reported in central and southern areas in what residents said were almost non-stop bombardments.

In a post on social media platform X, Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee urged residents of four zones in Beit Lahiya on Gaza’s northern edge to move out.

He said the military “will work with extreme force against terrorist infrastructure and subversive elements” in the region.

The renewed shelling and bombing of northern Gaza comes almost four months after the Israeli army announced it was drawing down its troops there, saying Hamas no longer controlled those areas.

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This month, Israel also drew down most of its forces in southern Gaza. But efforts to reach a ceasefire have failed, and Israeli bombardment and raids on territory where occupation forces  have withdrawn are making it difficult for displaced Gazans to return to abandoned homes.

Overnight, tanks made a new incursion east of Beit Hanoun on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip, though they did not penetrate far into the city, residents and Hamas media said. Gunfire reached some schools causing panic amongst displaced residents sheltering there.

Hamas said Israel had achieved only “humiliation and defeat” 200 days into its offensive.

Thick black smoke could be seen rising in northern Gaza from across the southern Israeli border. Shelling was intense east of Beit Hanoun and Jabalia and continued today in areas such as Zeitoun, one of Gaza City’s oldest suburbs, with residents reporting at least ten strikes in a matter of seconds along the main road.

“It was one of those nights of horror that we have lived in at the start of the war. The bombing from tanks and planes didn’t stop,” said Um Mohammad, 53, a mother-of-six living 700 metres from Zeitoun.

“I had to gather with my children and my sisters who came to shelter with me in one place and pray for our lives as the house kept shaking,” she told Reuters via a chat app.

Just west of Beit Hanoun in Beit Lahiya an air strike hit a mosque, killing a boy and injuring several others, while a medic was killed in shelling near the town stadium, medics said.

A separate strike in Beit Lahiya hit a crowd gathering on the coastal road to collect aid dropped from the air, medics said. Reuters could not immediately confirm that target, or whether there were casualties there.

Elsewhere in the enclave, shelling hit the east of the main southern city Khan Yunis a day after tanks raided the area, and in the central district four bodies were recovered from a house hit overnight in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Palestinian health authorities say more than 34,180 people have been confirmed killed in Israel’s seven-month bombing campaign, the vast majority children and women, with thousands more bodies as yet unrecovered.

In Nasser Hospital, southern Gaza’s main health facility, authorities recovered a further 35 bodies in the past day from what they say is one of at least three mass graves found at the site, taking the total found there to 310 in the past week.

Palestinians say Israeli troops buried corpses there with bulldozers to cover up crimes.

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