Sunday, February 25, 2024

Israel strikes outskirts of Gaza City

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Deir Al- Balah (Gaza Strip), Oct 27: Israel’s defence minister said Friday that it expects to launch a ground offensive into Gaza soon that will be long and difficult, and aim to destroy a vast network of tunnels used by the territory’s militant Hamas rulers.
Yoav Gallant spoke to a small group of foreign reporters after Israeli forces backed by fighter jets and drones carried out a second ground raid into Gaza in as many days, striking the outskirts of Gaza City.
He said the ground invasion would include large forces, backed by airstrikes, and “will take a long time,” without elaborating.
He said it would be followed by a third phase of lower-intensity fighting, as Israel destroys “pockets of resistance.”
The Palestinian death toll has already soared past 7,300 as Israel has carried out waves of devastating airstrikes in response to a bloody Hamas incursion into southern Israel on October 7. The Health Ministry in Gaza, which tracks the toll, released a detailed list of names and identification numbers on Thursday. The toll includes more than 3,000 minors and more than 1,500 women.
The overall number of deaths far exceeds the combined toll of all four previous wars between Israel and Hamas, estimated at around 4,000.
A ground invasion is expected to cause even higher casualties on both sides as Israeli forces and Hamas battle each other in dense residential areas.
More than 1,400 people in Israel, mostly civilians, were slain during the initial Hamas attack, according to the Israeli government. Hamas is holding at least 229 captives inside Gaza, including men, women, children and older adults.
Hospitals have been scrounging for fuel to run emergency generators that power incubators and other life-saving equipment after Israel cut off all fuel deliveries to Gaza at the start of the war, forcing its only power plant to shut down.
Only a trickle of food and medicine have been allowed in since the war began.
Gallant said Israel believes that Hamas would confiscate any fuel that enters. He said Hamas uses generators to pump air into its hundreds of kilometres of tunnels, which originate in civilian areas. He showed reporters aerial footage of what he said was a tunnel shaft built right next to a hospital.
Little is known about Hamas’ secretive tunnels and other infrastructure, and it wasn’t possible to independently confirm Gallant’s claims.
Lynne Hastings, the UN aid coordinator for the Palestinian territories, declined to comment on Gallant’s remarks, saying “we don’t know what Hamas has or doesn’t have.”
“We have been bringing fuel into Gaza in coordination with the government of Israel for decades. We know fuel is a high-risk item and are working with the Israelis to make sure what we will be using for our operations is done securely,” she said.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, which provides basic services to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza, said it has been forced to ration fuel among lifesaving machines in hospitals, bakeries, and desalinisation plants, and only has enough for a few more days.
Earlier on Friday, the military said ground forces raided inside Gaza, striking dozens of militant targets over the past 24 hours.
It said aircraft and artillery bombed targets in Shijaiyah, a neighbourhood on Gaza City’s outskirts that was the scene of an urban battle in the 2014 Gaza war.
The military said the soldiers exited the territory without suffering any casualties.
Israel uses sponge bombs
In order to fight Hamas through its tunnel network, Israel is reportedly making “sponge bombs”, which create a sudden explosion of foam that rapidly expands and then hardens.
According to a report in The Telegraph, Israel has been testing the chemical grenades, which contain no explosives but are used to seal off gaps or tunnel entrances from which Hamas operatives may emerge.
These devices are said to be encased within a protective plastic container that has a metal barrier that divides two distinct liquids. When activated, these liquids merge and advance toward their intended destination.
Israel Defence Forces (IDF) were seen deploying these devices during exercises in a mock tunnel system near the Gaza border in 2021. (AP)

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