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Israel army launches ground offensive in Gaza City, targets UN office again

July 8, 2024 at 2:52 pm

Palestinians inspects the area after Israeli attacks on a school belonging to the United Nations (UN) Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is used as a refugee centre in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the central part of Gaza on July 06, 2024. [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli army announced, early Monday, that it launched a “ground operation” in Gaza City, against targets including headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), claiming it housed weapons and investigation and detention rooms.

The Israeli army claimed in a statement that the operation is based on intelligence that indicates the presence of “Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure, and operatives in Gaza City”, Anadolu Agency reports.

Referring to the attack on UNRWA headquarters, the Israeli army alleged that the building housed weapons, investigation and detention rooms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The army said it had previously conducted “operations” in the area “to eliminate Hamas operatives and destroy an underground tunnel route beneath the compound”.

During the recent offensive, the Israeli army reportedly used loudspeakers to warn civilians to leave the building, promising a safe passage for non-combatants.

READ: UNRWA calls for ‘independent investigation’ into Gaza school bombing

When the ground offensive began, the army statement said it warned civilians about military actions in the area, claiming that a route would be opened to allow uninvolved civilians to be evacuated.

UNRWA has yet to respond to the Israeli military attack on its headquarters.

On Saturday, the Israeli military claimed that it targeted Palestinian militants inside the Al-Jaouni School in Nuseirat, which Hamas fighters were using as a command centre. This attack reportedly killed 16 Palestinians and injured 50 more.

Earlier in the day, thousands of Palestinians fled large areas of south-west Gaza City when Israeli forces unexpectedly intruded for the first time in over three months and opened heavy fire targeting roads, homes and residential buildings, resulting in dozens of casualties.

An Anadolu correspondent reported that Israeli military vehicles entered the Tel Al-Hawa neighbourhood, the industrial area, the university zones and the southern outskirts of the Rimal under heavy fire from fighter jets and artillery.

Witnesses told Anadolu on Monday that Israeli aircraft and artillery carried out intense strikes on south-western Gaza City, with continuous gunfire from helicopters.

They also said that all health facilities in Gaza City have been rendered out of service as Israeli forces raid hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip.

Separately, Israeli gunboats fired heavy machine guns at fishermen’s port in western Gaza City, the witnesses reported.

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since a 7 October, 2023 attack by Hamas.

More than 38,150 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and over 87,800 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Nine months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered it to immediately halt its military operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

READ: Gaza’s death toll is an underestimate, new report warns