Israel expands Gaza ground offensive, says efforts in south will be ‘no less strength’ than in north
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military said Sunday its ground offensive had expanded to every part of Gaza, and it ordered more evacuations in the crowded south while vowing that operations there against Hamas would be “no less strength” than its shattering ones in the north.
Heavy bombardment followed the evacuation orders, and Palestinians said they were running out of places to go in the sealed-off territory bordering Israel and Egypt. Many of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are crammed into the south after Israel ordered civilians to leave the north in the early days of the war, which was sparked by the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack in Israel that killed about 1,200, mostly civilians.
The United Nations estimates that 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced. Nearly 958,000 of them are in 99 U.N. facilities in the south, said Juliette Toma, director of communications at the U.N. agency for Palestinian After dark, gunfire and shelling were heard in the central town of Deir al-Balah as flares lit the sky. In Gaza’s second-largest city of Khan Younis, Israeli drones buzzed overhead. U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk urged an end to the war, saying civilian suffering was “too much to bear.”
The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the death toll there since Oct. 7 has surpassed 15,500, with more than 41,000 wounded. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but said 70 per cent of the dead were women and children.
A Health Ministry spokesman asserted that hundreds had been killed or wounded since a weeklong cease-fire ended Friday. “The majority of victims are still under the rubble,” Ashraf al-Qidra said.