Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrikes hit different locations in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, including areas in the south that Israel had declared safe areas. The bombings compounded fear among the more than two million Palestinians trapped in the territory that there was no safe place.
In the almost two weeks since Israel began attacking in response to a devastating assault by Hamas To populations in southern Israel, airstrikes have hit the populous territory hard. Even after Israel told Palestinians to evacuate the north and head to what it described as “safe zones” in the south, attacks continued across the strip.
The latest bombings came after Israel agreed on Wednesday to allow Egypt to deliver limited humanitarian aid to Gaza, the first crack in a suffocating 11-day siege. Many among Gaza’s 2.3 million people have reduced their food to one meal a day and have resorted to drinking dirty water as supplies run out.
The announcement of a plan to bring water, food and other supplies to Gaza was made as anger over the explosion at Gaza City’s Al Ahli hospital spread across the Middle East, and during a visit to Israel by the president of USA, Joe Bidenwhich hoped to prevent a broader conflict in the region.
There were competing accusations over who was behind the deadly explosion. Hamas officials in Gaza blamed an Israeli airstrike and said hundreds were dead. Israel denied involvement and released a barrage of video recordings, sound and other information that it said showed the detonation was due to a failed rocket from Islamic Jihad, another militant group operating in Gaza. Islamic Jihad rejected the accusation.
The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the allegations or evidence.
Biden, who visited Israel on Wednesday, said data from his Defense Department showed the explosion was probably not due to an Israeli airstrike. The White House later said that an analysis of “aerial imagery, intercepted and freely circulating information” showed that Israel was not behind the deal. However, Washington continues to gather evidence.
Videos from the scene showed the hospital grounds littered with bodies, many of them young children. Hundreds of wounded were rushed to Gaza City’s main hospital, where doctors already working with minimal supplies of supplies were forced to perform some surgeries on the floor, often without anesthesia.
More than a million Palestinians – around half of Gaza’s population – have fled their homes. Many of those who fled Gaza City and other places in the north when Israel told them to evacuate have been crammed into United Nations (UN) schools or relatives’ homes.
Israeli strikes fell on Gaza overnight, destroying homes in the north and south.
In southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands were seeking shelter, the Hamas-led Interior Ministry reported continued attacks on the town of Khan Younis that hit several homes. Medical staff at Khan Younis’ Nasser hospital said they had received at least 12 dead and 40 wounded.
Sirens blared as emergency crews rushed to rescue survivors from a building. Many people were believed to be trapped in the remains of twisted bed frames, broken furniture and chunks of concrete. Balconies and facades had been blown up in nearby buildings.
A small, soot-covered child was carried unconscious in the arms of a rescuer from a damaged building and into a waiting ambulance.
The Israeli military said it had killed a top Palestinian militant in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, and hit hundreds of targets in Gaza, including tunnels, intelligence infrastructure and command centers. He said he hit dozens of mortar launch sites, most immediately after they fired shells into Israel. Palestinian militants have fired intense rounds of rockets into Israel since the fighting began.
Israel has said it attacks Hamas militants wherever they are in Gaza, and accused the group’s leaders and fighters of taking refuge among civilians.
The attacks created a feeling of constant danger for the Palestinians.
The Musa family fled to the central town of Deir al Balah, a normally quiet town, and took shelter in a cousin’s three-story house near the local hospital. QBut on Wednesday, a series of explosions believed to be airstrikes hit the building, turning the family home into a mountain of rubble that they said buried about 20 women and children.
The dead body of Hiam Musa, sister-in-law of Associated Press photojournalist Adel Hana, was recovered from the rubble on Wednesday, according to the family. They didn’t know who else was under the ruins.
“Has no sense”Hana said. “We went to Deir al Balah because it is quiet, we thought it would be safe.”
The Israeli military said it was investigating.
In northern areas under Israeli instructions to evacuate, airstrikes hit three residential blocks in Al Zahra, according to the Gaza Interior Ministry, as well as homes along the border with Israel. Israel has amassed troops in the area and is expected to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, although military commanders say no decision has yet been made.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 3,478 people had been killed in Gaza since the start of the war and more than 12,000 had been injured, mostly women, children and the elderly. Another 1,300 people are believed to be buried under the rubble.according to health authorities.
In Israel, more than 1,400 people were killed, most of them civilians, in the bloody Hamas raid on October 7. About 200 more people were kidnapped. The Israeli military said Thursday it had notified the families of 203 captives.
In recent days, there have also been violent clashes between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, amid fears that the fighting could expand in the region. In the West Bank, where dozens of Palestinians have been killed since the war began, Israeli forces have killed dozens of Palestinians in the past two days, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The agreement to bring aid to Gaza remained fragile, while hospitals in the besieged territory said they were on the brink of collapse.
Biden explained that the Egyptian president had agreed to open the border crossing and allow the entry of a first group of 20 trucks with humanitarian aid. If Hamas confiscates aid, “it will end”, he sentenced. The aid will begin flowing Friday at the earliest, White House officials said.
Egypt has yet to repair the road across the border, which was destroyed by Israeli attacks. More than 200 trucks and some 3,000 tons of aid are at or near the Rafah border crossing, ready to enter, said Red Crescent director for North Sinai, Khalid Zayed.
The supplies will enter under UN supervision, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told Al-Arabiya television. When asked if foreigners and citizens with dual nationality who wanted to leave would be allowed to pass, he responded: “As long as the crossing is operating normally and the (crossing) facilities have been repaired.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the decision was approved following a request from Biden. He also stated that Israel “will not thwart” deliveries of food, water or medicine from Egypt, as long as they are limited to civilians in the southern Gaza Strip and do not go to Hamas fighters. The statement did not mention fuel, urgently needed for hospital generators.
Relatives of some of the nearly 200 people taken hostage and forcibly taken to Gaza during the attack reacted with outrage to news of the aid.
“Children, babies, women, soldiers, men and the elderly, some with serious illnesses, wounded and shot, are held underground like animals”, stated a statement from the Forum of Families of Missing and Hostages. But “The Israeli government pampers murderers and kidnappers”they stated.
In his brief visit, Biden attempted to strike a balance between showing American support for Israel and containing growing alarm among his Arab allies. He also announced a shipment of $100 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in Israel on Thursday in an attempt to express solidarity following the Hamas attack and prevent an escalation of the war.
The people of Israel have “suffered a horrific, unspeakable act of terrorism, and I want you to know that the United Kingdom and I are with you”he said upon arrival.