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Israel-Hamas War Day 59: War escalates as Israeli ground forces launch offensive in southern Gaza. 10 points

Israel-Hamas War Day 59: The Israel-Hamas war has reached its 58 days now. After the short-lived truce, the war has again started. The renewed warfare followed the end on Friday of a seven-day pause in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants which had allowed an exchange of 105 hostages held by Hamas, most of them Israelis, for 240 Palestinian prisoners. The latest violence took place despite calls from the United States who is Israel’s closest ally for Israel to limit harm to Palestinian civilians in the new phase of its offensive, focused on the south. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, more than 15,523 people have been killed in nearly two months of warfare that broke out after a Hamas cross-border raid on southern Israel on October 7 in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 240 taken hostage. Israel says Hamas continues to hold 136 hostages.

Here are 10 points you need to know

1. The Israeli military has said that its ground forces were operating against Hamas across the Gaza Strip on Sunday, its clearest indication yet that a planned ground offensive in the enclave’s heavily crowded south had begun as Israeli bombing killed and wounded dozens of Palestinians. The Israeli military earlier ordered people to evacuate some areas in and near the city, but made no announcement of any new southern ground assault.

2. 10 people were killed and more than were 100 wounded in an airstrike in the Al-Geneina neighborhood of the border city of Rafah in southern Gaza, Al Jazeera reported citing eyewitness reports, however, the information couldn’t be verified, Bloomberg reported.

3. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has also hinted that there may be a major uptick in violence in the south as Israel pursues its declared goal of destroying Hamas. However, combat in the south is more difficult now because of the displacement of some 1.8 million people, many of whom fled there to avoid the earlier fighting in the north, according to figures by the United Nations.

4. On Sunday, the attacks on shipping in the southern Red Sea fueled fears of the conflict spreading. The US Defense Department said three commercial ships were attacked by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi movement in international Red Sea waters, and a U.S. destroyer operating in the area shot down three drones as it responded to distress calls.

5. Bombardments from war planes and artillery were also concentrated on Khan Younis and Rafah, another city in Gaza’s south, residents told Reuters, and hospitals were struggling to cope with the flow of wounded.

6. Israel’s government spokesperson, Eylon Levy, said the military had struck more than 400 targets over the weekend “including extensive aerial attacks in the Khan Younis area” and had also killed Hamas militants and destroyed their infrastructure in Beit Lahiya in the north.

7. Apart from this, IDF in an update also shared that it eliminated 500 of the 800+ exposed shafts to Hamas’ underground tunnels located near or inside kindergartens, schools, playgrounds and mosques. While sharing a video on X, it wrote, “To be clear, these places aren’t childproof, but rather teeming with terrorism. Every tunnel shaft and weapon we find is further proof of how Hamas deliberately uses the residents of Gaza for their terrorist agenda against Israelis.”

8. Israel is seeking to dismantle Hamas brigades, killing leaders and operatives, in the south as it did in and around Gaza City, said Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, chief of staff for the Israel Defense Forces. “It will be as fierce, with no lesser results,” Halevi said. “It will be as thorough in the south as it has been in the north.”

9.  On Sunday, Qatar said that it will continue efforts to revive the truce, and Eylon Levy, a spokesman for the Israeli government, said Israel is prepared to entertain further offers from Hamas. The militant group released a statement Sunday saying further hostage releases depend on “stopping the aggression and reaching a cease-fire.”

10. After the exchanges of the past week, 137 hostages remain in Gaza with 117 of those being male, including two children, he said. All but 11 are Israeli, he said, adding that the bodies of three hostages have been located by the ministry and six people are still missing.

(With inputs from Reuters, Bloomberg)

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Updated: 04 Dec 2023, 07:41 AM IST


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