Fighting rages in southern Gaza and fears grow the war may spread in the region
Heavy fighting raged in central and southern Gaza on Wednesday as fears mounted of a regional escalation following a strike in Beirut that killed one of the top Hamas leaders.
The strike was widely blamed on Israel but it’s implications for the war remain unclear. Israeli officials have not commented on the strike Tuesday that killed Saleh Arouri, the most senior Hamas member slain since the war in Gaza erupted nearly three months ago. Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said “we are on high readiness for any scenario.”
Hamas’ October 7 attack from Gaza into southern Israel killed around 1,200 people, and some 240 others were taken hostage. Israel’s air, ground and sea assault in Gaza has killed more than 22,100 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
Israel’s campaign has driven some 85% of Gaza’s population from their homes, forcing hundreds of thousands of people into overcrowded shelters or teeming tent camps in Israeli-designated safe areas that the military has nevertheless bombed. A quarter of Gaza’s population face starvation, according to the United Nations, as Israeli restrictions and heavy fighting hinder aid delivery.