Clashes intensify in Gaza as Israeli forces expand ground offensive

  • Recent developments
  • 20 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Gaza – Palestinian medical officials
  • 600 targets hit in Gaza – Israeli military
  • Four Palestinians Killed in Israeli Attack in West Bank – Palestinian Ministry of Health
  • Israel attacks northern Gaza with heavy air and artillery strikes

GAZA, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Palestinians in Gaza reported heavy air and artillery attacks early on Monday as Israeli troops pressed into the enclave with a ground offensive backed by tanks, prompting international calls to protect civilians.

Israel’s military said it had struck 600 militant targets in the past few days, continuing to expand ground operations in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian civilians desperately need fuel, food and clean water as the conflict enters its fourth week.

“IDF troops killed dozens of terrorists who defended themselves in buildings and tunnels and tried to attack the troops,” the army said in a statement.

Israeli airstrikes hit areas near Gaza’s al-Shifa and al-Quds hospitals, and Palestinian militants clashed with Israeli forces in the border area east of the southern city of Khan Younis, Palestinian media reported.

Medical officials in Gaza said at least 20 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded overnight as Israeli ground forces pushed into the coastal enclave from multiple directions.

Residents reported hearing gunshots and explosions throughout the night. The Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad said their members were involved in fighting with Israeli forces in Gaza and the West Bank city of Jenin.

Reuters could not independently confirm these reports.

Two days after the Israeli government ordered expanded ground incursions, Israel released images of battle tanks on Israel’s West Bank in a sign of a possible attempt to encircle Gaza’s main city. Some images posted online show Israeli soldiers waving an Israeli flag deep inside Gaza. Reuters could not verify the images.

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Israel’s self-proclaimed “phase two” of its three-week war against Iranian-backed Hamas militants has been largely shielded from public view, with troops moving in the dark and telecommunications blackouts cutting off Palestinians.

Phone and internet cuts appeared to ease on Sunday, but telecommunications provider Baltel said Israeli airstrikes again knocked out internet and phone service in parts of northern Gaza, home to Hamas command centers.

These outages have severely hampered the recovery of those killed in the Israeli barrage.

The strikes near hospitals were announced after the Palestinian Red Cross said on Sunday that it had been warned by Israeli authorities to immediately evacuate al-Quds hospital, which is sheltering some 14,000 people.

Israel has accused Hamas of locating command centers and other military infrastructure in Gaza hospitals, which the group denies.

Palestinian officials say around 50,000 people have taken refuge in Al-Shifa Hospital.

Israel has tightened its siege and bombardment of Gaza since Hamas militants entered Israel on October 7. Israeli officials say the militants have killed about 1,400 people and taken at least 239 hostages.

The military has stepped up operations against Islamist groups in the West Bank, killing scores of Palestinians and arresting hundreds.

Four people were killed in an attack by Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin early Monday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Calls for suspension

The stepped-up attacks coincided with international cries for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid.

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Qatar-mediated talks between Israel and Hamas continued on Sunday, a source close to the talks told Reuters, and included discussions on the release of hostages.

Hamas wants a five-day humanitarian pause in Israeli operations to allow arms and fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip, in exchange for the militants releasing all civilians held hostage, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to the Israeli government, more than half of Hamas’ hostages hold foreign passports from 25 countries, including 54 Thai nationals.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council is due to give a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The 15-member body has failed four times in the past two weeks, but the 193-member UN General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

US President Joe Biden pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to protect civilians in Gaza and “immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian aid” on Sunday, the White House said.

Colonel Elad Goran of COGAT, an Israeli Defense Ministry agency that coordinates with the Palestinians, said Israel would allow a dramatic increase in aid to Gaza in the next few days and that Palestinian civilians should move to a “humanitarian zone” in the south. Small territory.

Medical officials in Gaza, a country of 2.3 million people, said Sunday that 8,005 people – including 3,324 minors – had been killed.

The Hamas-run Gaza government’s media office said 116 doctors and 35 journalists had been killed since the conflict broke out.

Reuters could not independently verify these figures.

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Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which it describes as requiring sustained ground offensives around and under Gaza City, where the militants have a vast network of underground bunkers.

There are also fears of war spreading across the region, including in Lebanon, where the Israeli military and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group are also firing.

On Monday, Syrian state television said Israeli airstrikes targeting two military positions in Daraa had led to “some material losses”.

The conflict has sparked massive demonstrations around the world in support of the Palestinians. Several thousand people rallied in Beirut on Sunday to show solidarity with Gaza.

Russian officials said police seized an airport in the Muslim-majority region of Dagestan and arrested 60 people after hundreds of anti-Israel protesters besieged the facility when a flight from Israel arrived on Sunday.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Yomna Ehab, James Mackenzie, Dan Williams and Jonathan Landay; By David Lauder and Stephen Coates; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Miral Fahmy

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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A veteran reporter with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.

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