Israeli forces kill dozens of Palestinians as they push deeper in Gaza’s north and south


More than 800,000 people have fled Rafah, says UN


Israeli forces killed at least 35 Palestinians in aerial and ground bombardments across the Gaza Strip on Thursday and battled in close combat with Hamas resistance fighters in areas of the southern city of Rafah.

Israel’s invasion of Gaza has killed more than 35,000 people, with thousands more feared buried under the rubble.

Israeli tanks advanced in Rafah’s southeast, edged towards the city’s western district of Yibna and continued to operate in three eastern suburbs, residents said.

“The occupation is trying to move further to the west, they are on the edge of Yibna, which is densely populated. They didn’t invade it yet,” one resident said, asking not to be named.

“We hear explosions and we see black smoke coming up from the areas where the army has invaded. It was another very difficult night,” he told Reuters via a chat app.

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on the northern and southern edges of Gaza this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes, and have cut off the main access routes for aid, raising the risk of famine.

Israel claims that the attack on Rafah is to root out battalions of Hamas freedom fighters which it believes are sheltering there. Its troops have been slowly moving into the eastern outskirts of Rafah since the start of the month. 

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency in Gaza, estimated as of Monday that more than 800,000 people had fled Rafah since Israel began targeting the city in early May, despite international pleas for restraint.

In parallel, Israeli forces stepped up a ground offensive in Jabalia, where the military has razed several residential areas, and struck nearby Beit Hanoun town, areas where Israel declared major operations over months ago. Israel claims it has had to return to prevent Hamas from regrouping there.

The Israeli military said in a statement that its forces began conducting targeted raids in Beit Hanoun.

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