Israeli Bombing Of Gaza Kills 125 People Amid Cairo Truce Talks

A picture taken from Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising inside the Palestinian territory during an Israeli strike on January 7, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas militants. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Heavy Israeli bombing of Gaza overnight killed at least 125 people, the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry said Wednesday, amid talks in Cairo aimed at striking a truce.

As the battle continued, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA claimed Israeli forces had issued new evacuation orders for a part of Khan Yunis that houses an estimated half a million civilians and displaced refugees.

The directives came as the World Food Programme warned Gazans of “catastrophic food insecurity” and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres chastised Israel for rejecting a two-state solution, which is viewed as the only road to long-term peace by partner the United States.

The heaviest combat was taking place near Khan Yunis, the birthplace of Hamas Gaza head Yahya Sinwar, who is suspected of masterminding the October 7 bombings that launched the war.

The Israeli military claims to have “encircled” the southern city and is stepping up operations “in the area of the Khan Yunis (refugee) camp”.

According to the health ministry, Gaza hospitals have received the bodies of 125 persons who were killed overnight.

The Hamas government claimed that more over 200 individuals were killed, but did not give a period.

It accused the Israeli army of forcibly relocating “tens of thousands” of people from Khan Yunis to Rafah, a city in southern Gaza near the Egyptian border.

Israeli forces struck the Palestinian Red Crescent’s headquarters in the southern city, killing three displaced people and injuring three others, according to the organization.

‘Buffer zone’

The Gaza war began on October 7 with Hamas’ unprecedented strikes, which killed around 1,140 people in Israel, the majority of them were civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official data.

In response, Israel has launched a relentless military operation in Gaza, killing at least 25,490 Palestinians, over 70% of whom are women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled region.

The Israeli populace has stepped up pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to cease the conflict.

That pressure has increased after 24 soldiers were killed on Monday, the army’s deadliest single day since it began offensive operations in Gaza.

According to military spokesman Daniel Hagari, 21 reservists were murdered “when a squad of terrorists surprised the force” with rocket-propelled grenade fire.

According to Israeli sources, they were killed during an Israeli operation to demolish a portion of a Palestinian neighborhood as part of a plan to construct a “buffer zone” within Gaza near the Israeli border.

The World Food Programme warned that conditions in the territory were deteriorating.

“More than half a million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic food insecurity, and the risk of famine grows by the day,” said Abeer Etefa, the World Food Programme’s senior Middle East spokesman.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, meanwhile, condemned Israeli authorities’ repeated rejection of proposals for the establishment of a Palestinian state as “unacceptable,” claiming it “would indefinitely prolong the conflict.”

‘Nothing to eat’

People uprooted by the war in Gaza City reported being stuck in a new battle zone with no provisions.

“They besieged us in the camp and brought us here, and even here, the shelling continued,” Umm Dahud al-Kafarna, originally from Beit Hanun, told AFP TV.

“They have besieged us for six days, leaving us with nothing to eat or drink while bombing us from the air, sea and tanks.”

US President Joe Biden’s Middle East envoy, Brett McGurk, is in the region for discussions aimed at brokering a fresh arrangement to free the remaining detainees in exchange for a cease-fire.

“Certainly one of the things he’s in the region talking about is the possibility of another hostage deal, which would necessitate a humanitarian pause for some time,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

“The conversations are very sober and serious about trying to get another hostage deal.”

A Palestinian source close with the talks told AFP that a Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to meet Egypt’s intelligence head and discuss new cease-fire offers.

According to a Hamas source, discussions in Egypt’s capital continued on Wednesday.

Wider escalation

The Gaza war has raised concerns about a wider escalation, with a surge in violence involving Iran-backed Hamas supporters across the Middle East.

The US military says it conducted out strikes against Iran-backed forces in Iraq and Yemen overnight.

A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani fiercely criticized the US for the strikes.

The Iraqi leader’s spokesman for military affairs, Yehia Rasool, stated that this irresponsible behavior was leading to a reckless escalation in a region already facing the threat of increasing conflict.

In Yemen, the US military said it destroyed two anti-ship missiles belonging to the Iran-backed Huthi militia overnight, which presented a “imminent threat”.

It was the latest in a string of strikes by the US and the UK intended at limiting the Huthis’ ability to target shipping, which they have done since November in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

In Lebanon, the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said Tuesday that it has attacked the Israeli air control base of Meron for the second time in recent weeks, in reaction to Israeli “assassinations” and attacks on civilians.

Israel’s military said it hit numerous places in Lebanon on Tuesday, including a “military asset” used by Hezbollah and “operated by Iranian forces”.

The army also reported that reservists killed a “terrorist” who opened fire on them in the occupied West Bank.

Written by PH

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