UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk has declared that Gaza’s Palestinians are living in “total terror”, fearing “atrocities”, two months after the start of a war fueled by attacks by the Palestinian movement Hamas against Israel. September October.
Ground forces were also involved in the streets of Khan Younes, which were practically empty today, while the dead and wounded continued to be taken to hospitals, Agence France Presse (AFP) journalists at the scene said.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians live in and around the city, many displaced from other areas since the war began, facing a devastating humanitarian situation and confined to an area close to the border with Egypt.
Thousands of people, on foot, in carts or with their belongings piled on the roofs of cars, continue to flee to the south and to the neighboring town of Rafah.
“The whole city is being destroyed and bombed. Many people are coming from the north in dire conditions, without shelter, looking for their children,” Hassan al-Qadi, a resident of Khan Yunis, who arrived in Rafah, told AFP.
“We have to understand. If they want to kill us, let them surround us in one place and exterminate us all together. But pushing from one place to another is not fair. We are not just numbers. We are human beings”, he added.
Fadi al-Ashi, who lives in Gaza City in the north of the territory, arrived in Rafah after a long walk.
“We stayed in eight or nine houses before we got here,” says the same man, who traveled to Rafah on foot, “without reason or any other means of transportation.”
Parallel to the campaign of attacks, which has been engaged in a ground offensive against Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip since October 27, the Israeli military expanded ground operations to the entire area and announced on Tuesday that it had encircled Khan Yunis.
According to the Hamas Health Ministry, 16,248 people, 70% of them women, children and youth, have been killed by Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip since October 7.
In Israel, an attack that day by Hamas commandos who infiltrated from Gaza killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, officials said.
“We have taken over several Hamas strongholds in the north of the Gaza Strip and are now carrying out operations against the strongholds in the south,” army chief Gen. Herzi Halevi said on Tuesday.
“Our forces found weapons in almost every building and house and terrorists in many houses and confronted them,” he added.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad sources told AFP their fighters have been clashing with Israeli troops in an attempt to prevent the army from entering Khan Yunis and areas east of the city, as well as nearby refugee camps.
According to the Hamas government, artillery fire caused “dozens of deaths and injuries” in several villages east of Khan Yunis on Tuesday night.
Today, the Israeli military asked the International Committee of the Red Cross for access to 138 hostages in Gaza.
“The Israeli army will do everything in its power to rescue our hostages (…) and we call on others to do the same,” declared army spokesman Daniel Hagari.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Rafah is currently the only place in the region — under a full siege by Israel on October 9 — where humanitarian aid continues to be distributed, albeit in large quantities.
In Khan Yunis, aid is virtually non-existent, and access to northern areas has been cut off since fighting resumed.
Every day, the military drops leaflets on Khan Yunis, warning of imminent bombings and ordering residents to leave the neighborhoods.
Calculating that 28% of the Gaza Strip is currently covered by these withdrawal orders, the UN deemed it “impossible” to create safe zones for civilians.
“Nowhere in Gaza is safe. Not the hospitals, not the shelters, not the refugee camps. No one is safe. Not the children. Not the health professionals. Not the humanitarian workers. This is a blatant disregard for the basic principles of humanity. The end,” said UN Emergency Aid Coordinator Martin Griffiths.
Every day, the same disturbing scenes are repeated at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, and at other hospitals in the city.
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