Israel pounds Gaza, dozens dead, as fighting rages - GulfToday

Israel pounds Gaza, dozens dead, as fighting rages


A woman and a girl react following an Israeli strike that hit a tent camp in Al Mawasi area in western Rafah on Friday. Reuters

Israeli forces pounded Rafah in southern Gaza on Friday, as well as other areas across the enclave, killing at least 45 Palestinians as troops engaged in close-quarter combat with Hamas, residents and Israel's military said.

Residents said the Israelis appeared to be trying to complete their capture of Rafah, which borders Egypt and has been the focus of an Israeli assault since early May.

Tanks were forcing their way into the western and northern parts of the city, having already captured the east, south and centre. Israeli forces fired from planes, tanks and ships off the coast, forcing a new wave of displacement from the city, which had been sheltering more than a million displaced people, most of whom have been forced to flee again.

Later on Friday, Palestinian health officials said at least 25 Palestinians were killed in Mawasi in western Rafah and 50 were wounded. Palestinians said a tank shell had hit a tent housing displaced families.

Two tanks climbed a hilltop overseeing Mawasi and they sent balls of fire that hit the tents of the poor people displaced in the area," one resident told Reuters over a chat app. Gaza health officials said at least 45 Palestinians had been killed in Israeli strikes on Friday.

The Israeli military said on Friday it was looking into the reported strikes on Mawasi and a separate incident in Gaza City.

Some Rafah residents said the pace of the Israeli raid has accelerated in the past two days. They said sounds of explosions and gunfire, indicating fierce fighting, have been almost non-stop.

"Last night was one of the worst nights in western Rafah, drones, planes, tanks, and naval boats bombarded the area. We feel the occupation is trying to complete the control of the city," said Hatem, 45, reached by text message. "They are taking heavy strikes from the resistance fighters, which may be slowing them down."


More than eight months into the war in Gaza, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to storm: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir Al Balah in the centre.

"The entire city of Rafah is an area of Israeli military operations," Ahmed Al Sofi, the mayor of Rafah, said in a statement carried by Hamas media on Friday. "The city lives through a humanitarian catastrophe and people are dying inside their tents because of Israeli bombardment," he added.

Sofi said there was no medical facility functioning in the city, and that remaining residents and displaced families lacked the minimum daily needs of food and water.

Palestinian and UN figures show that fewer than 100,000 people may have remained in the far western side of the city, which had been sheltering more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people before the Israeli assault began in early May.

In nearby Khan Younis, an Israeli air strike on Friday killed three people, including a father and son, medics said.

In parallel, Israeli forces continued a new push back into some Gaza City suburbs in the north of the enclave, where they fought with Hamas. Residents said army forces had destroyed many homes in the heart of Gaza City on Thursday.

Later on Friday, an Israeli air strike on a Gaza City municipal facility killed five people, including four municipal workers, the territory's Civil Emergency Service said. It added that rescue teams were searching the rubble for more missing victims. In the nearby Beach camp, an Israeli air strike on a house killed at least seven people, medics said.


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