Fierce Israeli tank fire and aerial bombing struck Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip on Friday night, residents said, after nearly 200 people were reported killed in 24 hours in Israel’s campaign against Hamas militants.
The sound of shooting indicated fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters in Khan Younis, some residents said. Planes also carried out a series of air strikes on the Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza Strip, according to medics and Palestinian journalists.
Israeli forces have been pounding Khan Younis in preparation for an anticipated further advance into the main southern city, swathes of which they captured in early December.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said troops were reaching Hamas command centres and arms depots. The Israeli military also said it had destroyed a tunnel complex in the basement of one of the houses of the Hamas leader for Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, in Gaza City.
Twelve weeks after Hamas militants stormed Israeli towns, killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages, Israeli forces have laid much of the Gaza Strip to waste as it pursues its war aim of eradicating the Islamist militants.
Nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes at least once and many are on the move again, often reduced to taking shelter in makeshift tents or huddled under tarpaulins and plastic sheets on open ground.
Gaza health authorities said 187 more Palestinians were confirmed killed in Israeli strikes in 24 hours, raising the toll to 21,507 – about 1% of Gaza’s population. Thousands more bodies are feared to be buried in the ruins of obliterated neighbourhoods.
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