Israel kills 20 Palestinians in central Gaza, orders all Gaza City residents to leave

AP , AFP , Wednesday 10 Jul 2024

Israeli airstrikes early Wednesday killed 20 Palestinians in central Gaza, including six children and three women, some of them inside a purported “safe zone” declared by the Israeli military, hospital authorities said.

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A man carries a child injured in Israeli bombardment upon his arrival at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Stripو July, 2024.AFP

 

This second straight night of deadly strikes in the central town of Deir al-Balah and nearby refugee camps came as U.S., Egyptian, and Qatari mediators as well as Israeli officials came together in the Qatari capital, Doha, for talks trying to push through a long-elusive deal for a cease-fire.

Strikes early Wednesday hit three houses in the Nuseirat refugee camp, killing 12 people including five children, said authorities at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where the casualties were taken. 

A fourth strike early Wednesday killed four men, three women, and a child when it hit a home in Deir al-Balah, an area that is located within the “humanitarian safe zone” where Israel has told Palestinians to seek refuge as it conducts offensives in multiple parts of the Gaza Strip.

The overnight bombardment came hours after Israeli warplanes struck the entrance of a school sheltering displaced families outside the southern city of Khan Younis.

The toll from the strike rose to 31 people killed, including eight children, and more than 50 wounded, officials at the nearby Nasser Hospital said Wednesday.

Footage aired by Al-Jazeera television showed kids playing soccer in the school’s yard when a sudden boom shook the area, prompting shouts of “a strike, a strike!”

Nowhere safe to go

The Israeli army on Wednesday dropped thousands of leaflets on Gaza City urging all residents to leave amid an intensified military assault on the Palestinian territory's main city, an AFP journalist said.

The leaflets, addressed to "everyone in Gaza City", set out routes out of the city to the Israeli claimed safe areas further south and warned the urban area would "remain a dangerous combat zone".

Israel issued the first formal evacuation order for part of the city on June 27, and two more in the following days.

In the leaflet drop, the army said residents would be able to take two safe roads "quickly and without inspection from Gaza City to shelters in Deir Al-Balah and Al-Zawiya".

Tens of thousands more residents have already fled Gaza City since troops launched the latest offensive in the city's eastern Shujaiya district and ground assaults have since raged.

The two latest orders covered central and western districts where tanks and troops have move in this week.

Strikes have also hit Deir Al-Balah, an area where Palestinians have been urged to move to for safety.

The United Nations on Tuesday protested Israel's evacuation orders, saying "many of whom have been forcibly displaced multiple times, to evacuate to areas where Israeli military operations are ongoing and where civilians continue to be killed and injured".

Targetting Hospitals

Large parts of Gaza City and urban areas around it have been flattened or left a shattered landscape by previous Israeli assaults, and much of the population fled earlier in the war. But the latest incursions and bombardment prompted a new flight of people.

After Israel on Monday called for an evacuation from eastern and central parts of Gaza City, staff at two hospitals — Al-Ahli and the Patients Friends Association Hospital — rushed to move patients and shut down, the United Nations said.

The Israeli military said Tuesday that it told hospitals and other medical facilities in Gaza City they did not need to evacuate. But hospitals in Gaza have often shut down and moved patients at any sign of possible Israeli military action, fearing raids.

In the past nine months, Israeli troops have attacked at least eight hospitals, causing the deaths of patients and medical workers along with massive destruction to facilities and equipment. 

Only 13 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are functioning, and those only partially, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian office.

New push for a cease-fire 

International mediators were making a new concerted effort to push through a proposed cease-fire deal.

An Egyptian official said the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, Abbas Kamel, went to Doha to join discussions over the deal,  according to AP .

The official said U.S. and Israeli officials were also attending.

A day earlier, CIA Director William Burns, who has led the American mediation, met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo

Obstacles remain in the talks, even after Hamas agreed to relent on its key demand that Israel commit to ending the war as part of any agreement. Hamas still wants mediators to guarantee that negotiations conclude with a permanent cease-fire.

Israel has rejected any deal that would force it to end the war with Hamas intact. Hamas on Monday accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “putting more obstacles in the way of negotiations,” including the operations in Gaza City.

 

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