Israeli forces have launched a large-scale ground offensive on the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, leading to fierce urban warfare as ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas stall.
Over 100 Palestinian Civilians Killed as Israel Bombs Homes and Infrastructure
The offensive began early Tuesday morning as a barrage of Israeli airstrikes and shelling battered Khan Younis, killing over 100 Palestinian civilians, including women and children. Israel claims it is targeting militants and Hamas infrastructure, but residential homes and buildings have taken the brunt of the assault.
“It was like an earthquake had hit our home,” said Mahmoud Abu Salah, a Khan Younis resident whose house was flattened in an airstrike. “We barely made it out from under the rubble before more bombs started falling.”
At least three high-rise apartment buildings and a shopping center have collapsed due to Israeli bombing. Power, water, and cell service in most of the city is also knocked out.
Fierce Battles Rage as Israeli Troops and Tanks Surround City
As airstrikes batter Khan Younis, columns of Israeli tanks, armored vehicles, and thousands of ground troops have moved to encircle the city from the north, east, and west. Intense skirmishes are underway along the edges of the city as militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad engage the invading forces.
Location of Israeli Forces Surrounding Khan Younis
|Border with Israel near Khuza’a town
|Approaching edge of Khan Younis refugee camp
|Coastal road near Al Qarara town
Israeli military sources say these forces are tightening the noose on Khan Younis and will soon launch a final push into the densely populated city center. House-to-house clearance operations are expected which experts warn could be extremely bloody for both soldiers and civilians.
Regional leaders like Jordan’s King Abdullah II are urging Israel to halt its Khan Younis operation, saying it will only lead to further loss of civilian life. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue applying “overwhelming force” until Hamas “unconditionally surrenders”.
Hundreds Trapped in Main Khan Younis Hospital Without Power or Supplies
Part of Israel’s strategy seems to be depriving Khan Younis of access to medical care. repeated Israeli airstrikes this week have damaged or destroyed nearly all health facilities in Khan Younis.
The remaining functional hospital, Nasser Medical Complex in central Khan Younis, is overwhelmed with hundreds of wounded civilians and militants seeking treatment. But with Israeli forces now positioned right outside the hospital, no medical evacuations or resupply deliveries can get in or out.
Hospital administrators warn they have less than a day’s worth of emergency power, medical supplies, food and water left for the hundreds trapped inside. The UN and regional leaders like Turkey’s President Erdogan are calling for immediate safe passage to evacuate patients and restock the hospital.
But Israel has so far refused, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz saying they will not allow the hospital to be used as “a way station for Hamas terrorists to escape justice.”
Israel Drops Leaflets Demanding Locals Help Free Captured Soldiers
As it ratchets up military pressure on Khan Younis, Israel appears to be seeking leverage to demand the return of two soldiers captured by Hamas during a border raid last week. The Israeli military has dropped leaflets over Khan Younis warning of dire consequences if the soldiers are not released unharmed.
The leaflets tell residents they must pressure Hamas leadership to free the hostages or “face the fury of the Israeli Armed Forces”. Most Gazans see the escalating Israeli assault on Khan Younis as clear retaliation for the capture of their soldiers.
But Hamas sources insist they want to trade the soldiers for the release of hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. With both sides digging in on their positions, ceasefire talks mediated by Egypt seem to have stalled for now.
Gaza Blockade at Center of Conflict
At the core of the current clashes is Israel’s 16-year blockade on Gaza which has cratered its economy and caused widespread suffering. Hamas argues it cannot govern Gaza under these conditions and wants the blockade lifted in return for halting its attacks on Israel.
But Israel claims the blockade is necessary to keep weapons and militants from entering Gaza. It wants Hamas and other groups disarmed before considering easing any restrictions. This impasse suggests the cycle of Hamas rocket attacks and disproportionate Israeli responses will persist unless a broader political solution is found.
Regional experts expect Israel will continue escalating its assaults on Gaza until Hamas acquiesces. But after previous bloody conflicts like 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hamas has simply re-armed and fought back even harder.
With over 100 already dead and many more likely to follow, the world is once more pleading for restraint as the people of Gaza pay the price for the deadlock between their militant rulers and the regional military superpower next door.
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