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Fierce street-by-street fighting erupts in Gaza City


On Thursday, Israeli forces and Hamas engaged in fierce, close-quarters combat in Gaza City. During a 10-hour engagement, Israel claimed to have destroyed one of the Palestinian terrorists’ “strongholds.”

In the demolished northern region of the besieged zone, Israeli soldiers supported by armored vehicles were engaged in combat with Hamas gunmen equipped with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

While accompanying Israeli troops on a supervised visit, an AFP journalist observed the remnants of what was once the main thoroughfare in north Gaza, which included broken palm trees, twisted lampposts, and crumpled road signs.

Israeli flags were flying over buildings at beach resorts in northern Gaza and there was little sign of any human presence amid the destruction as hundreds of thousands have fled a dire humanitarian situation.

The utter devastation is the result of over a month of war sparked by the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

On that day, gunmen from the Islamist group poured over the Gaza border with Israel and, according to Israeli officials, killed 1,400 people and seized about 240 hostages in the worst attack in the country’s history.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel retaliated with an aerial bombing and ground offensive that the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says has killed more than 10,500 people, many of them children.

Stronghold and tunnel 

The Israeli military said its forces secured a Hamas “military stronghold” in the western Jabalia area in the past day, adding the troops had “finished securing the compound after 10 hours of combat”.

The battle raged above and below ground, it said, exposing some of Hamas’s extensive network of tunnel and subterranean bases that form a significant element of the militants’ capacity to fight.

Israel said dozens of militants were killed while adding the overall death toll for Israel’s troops in the ground offensive had risen to 34.

The intense combat and the densely populated coastal territory being effectively sealed off have led to increasingly dire conditions for civilians.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged nations to “work towards a ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, as he opened a conference in Paris on aid to the Palestinian territory.

Israel won’t attend the meeting, which aims to mobilise the main players involved in the humanitarian response in the Gaza Strip.

Tom Potokar, chief surgeon at the International Committee of the Red Cross, described the scene at the European hospital in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza as “catastrophic”.

“In the last 24 hours, I’ve seen three patients with maggots in their wounds,” Potokar told AFP.

A rare delivery of emergency medical supplies reached Gaza City’s main Al-Shifa hospital on Wednesday, just the second since the war began, the UN and World Health Organization said, warning it “far from sufficient to respond to the immense needs”.

Thousands fleeing fighting

The army said 50,000 people had fled their homes in the main battle zone of northern Gaza on Wednesday, a sharp increase in numbers from earlier this week, adding to the more than 1.5 million people already seeking safety in the south of the coastal strip.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed the figure and warned conditions were desperate in battle zones north of the central Wadi Gaza district.

“Hundreds of thousands of people remaining north of Wadi Gaza, including IDPs (internally displaced people), are facing a dire humanitarian situation and are struggling to secure the minimum amounts of water and food to survive.”

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