Home International Israel carries out new strikes in Gaza, warns Lebanon’s Hezbollah

Israel carries out new strikes in Gaza, warns Lebanon’s Hezbollah

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Many Palestinians were seeking shelter on Wednesday after fleeing their homes in southern Gaza and complained of water shortages as Israel pressed on with its military offensive in the densely populated enclave.

An Israeli tank manoeuvres near the Israel-Gaza border, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Israel, July 2, 2024. Picture: Reuters, Ammar Awad

By Nidal Al-Mughrabi and Mohammad Salem

CAIRO/GAZA – Many Palestinians were seeking shelter on Wednesday after fleeing their homes in southern Gaza and complained of water shortages as Israel pressed on with its military offensive in the densely populated enclave.

Israeli forces carried out new strikes in the southern city of Rafah amid fierce fighting with Palestinian militants overnight, residents said. At least 12 people were killed in new strikes in central and northern Gaza, health officials said.

Tensions also rose between Israel and the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah after the latest in frequent exchanges of fire across Israel’s northern border with Lebanon since the start of the Gaza war.

Two security sources in Lebanon said an Israeli airstrike had killed a senior Hezbollah field commander, and Israel’s defence minister said Israeli forces would be ready to take any action necessary against the Iran-aligned group.

“We are striking Hezbollah very hard every day and we will also reach a state of full readiness to take any action required in Lebanon, or to reach an arrangement from a position of strength. We prefer an arrangement, but if reality forces us we will know how to fight,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

Fighting is still raging in some parts of Gaza despite Israeli leaders saying they are winding down the phase of intense fighting against Hamas, the Islamist group that has governed Gaza since 2007, and will soon shift to more targeted operations in the nearly nine-month-old war.

One Israeli airstrike hit a house in the southern city of Khan Younis, killing Hassan Hamdan, head of the burns and plastic surgery department at Nasser Medical Complex, along with all his family members, the Gaza health ministry said.

Khan Younis residents said a lack of designated shelters meant many families had slept on the road because they could not find tents after Israeli army evacuation orders led to the displacement of thousands of people living east of the city.

The last functioning hospital in the area, the Gaza European Hospital, which had housed displaced families as well as patients, was also evacuated.

“We were told to evacuate the European Hospital. We came to Nasser Hospital, but it was full,” said Ali Abu Ismehan, who was wounded by Israeli fire and had both his legs and pelvis broken.

“I am staying in the street, waiting for them to find me a place inside (the hospital),” he told Reuters.

An Israeli defence official said that although evacuation orders had been issued for the area where the European Gaza Hospital is located, staff and patients had been told they could stay.

RISING TENSIONS

Another Israeli airstrike hit a car in the southern city of Deir Al-Balah, killing three people, health officials said.

Deir Al-Balah is crowded with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians forced to flee homes elsewhere in Gaza, and residents complain of acute shortages of drinking water and inflated prices for basic foodstuff.

“There is no clean water to drink. We are forced to buy salty or unclean water at a high price,” Shaban, a 47-year-old father of five, told Reuters via a chat app.

He said many displaced people suffer from abdominal pains and diseases such as hepatitis.

The war in Gaza began when Hamas burst into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killed about 1,200 people and seized around 250 civilians and soldiers, according to Israeli tallies.

The retaliatory offensive launched by Israel to try to eliminate Hamas has killed nearly 38,000 people, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has left the heavily built-up coastal enclave in ruins.

In Lebanon, two security sources told Reuters the senior Hezbollah field commander who was killed on Wednesday had been outside the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, and was responsible for a section of Hezbollah’s operations along the frontier.

A Hezbollah statement identified him as Mohammed Nasser. The Israeli military did not immediately comment.

Tensions have also risen in recent months in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In the latest violence there, a 23-year-old Palestinian man was killed during an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin, the Palestinian health ministry said.

There have also been violent incidents in Israel itself since the Gaza war began, and one person was killed and another wounded in a stabbing attack in a mall in the northern city of Karmiel on Wednesday.

Police described the incident as a suspected terror attack, and Israel’s nYet news site said the accused attacker was from a town that is home to many members of Israel’s Arab minority.

There was no claim of responsibility from any group, although the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, in a post on Telegram, described the attack as a “heroic operation”.

– REUTERS

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