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Israel extends evacuation orders for southern Gaza amid war against Hamas – NBC Chicago

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For the latest news on the war between Israel and Hamas, follow live updates from NBC News.

The Israeli army on Sunday ordered the evacuation of more areas in and around Gaza’s second-largest city, Khan Younis, as it shifted its offensive to the southern half of the territory where, according to many Hamas leaders are in hiding.

Heavy shelling was reported overnight and into Sunday in the Khan Younis region and the southern city of Rafah, as well as in parts of the north that had been the focus of the intense air and ground campaign. ‘Israel.

Many of the territory’s 2.3 million residents are crowded into the south after Israeli forces ordered civilians to leave the north at the start of the two-month-old war.

With the resumption of fighting, hope of negotiating another temporary truce has vanished. A week-long ceasefire, which expired Friday, facilitated the release of dozens of Israeli and foreign hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

“We will continue the war until we achieve all its objectives, and it is impossible to achieve these objectives without a ground operation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech Saturday evening.

On Sunday, the Israeli military expanded evacuation orders in and around Khan Younis, asking residents in at least five additional areas and neighborhoods to leave for their safety.

Residents said the Israeli army had dropped leaflets ordering residents to move south to Rafah or to a coastal area in the southwest. “The city of Khan Younis is a dangerous combat zone,” the leaflets said.

New drone video shows widespread devastation in Gaza after seven weeks of war between Israel and Hamas.

U.N. observers said in a report released before the latest evacuation orders that the areas residents have been asked to leave represent about a quarter of Gaza’s territory. The report says these areas were home to nearly 800,000 people before the war.

Before the resumption of fighting, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had warned Israel to avoid further significant mass displacement.

The Israeli military said Sunday that its warplanes and helicopters “struck terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, including terrorist tunnels, command centers and weapons storage facilities” overnight, while that a drone had killed five Hamas fighters.

In northern Gaza, rescue teams, with little equipment, rushed on Sunday to search through the rubble of buildings in the Jabaliya refugee camp and other areas of Gaza City, looking for survivors. potential and corpses.

“They are hitting everywhere,” said Amal Radwan, a refugee woman in Jabaliya, an urban refugee camp. “There is the incessant sound of explosions around us.”

Mohamed Abu Abed, who lives in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, also said there were incessant airstrikes and artillery shelling in his neighborhood and surrounding areas.

“The situation here is imaginable,” he said. “Death is everywhere. You can die in a flash.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said on Saturday that the total number of deaths in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war on October 7 had exceeded 15,200, a sharp increase from the previous one. count of more than 13,300 on November 20. does not differentiate between deaths of civilians and combatants, but it indicates that 70% of the deaths were women and children. More than 40,000 people have been injured since the start of the war.

Both regions play an important role in Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

US calls to protect civilians came after an offensive in the first weeks of the war devastated large areas of northern Gaza. A large part of Gaza’s population is concentrated in the southern half of the territory. The territory itself, bordering Israel and Egypt to the south, is sealed off, leaving residents with the only option to move inside Gaza to avoid bombing.

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming out of Gaza are devastating,” US Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai on Saturday.

Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, said Israel was making “maximum efforts” to protect civilians and that the army had used leaflets, phone calls and radio and television broadcasts to urge Gazans to leave specific areas. He added that Israel was considering creating a security buffer zone that would not allow Gazans direct access to the border fence on foot.

Israel says it targets Hamas members and blames civilian casualties on militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighborhoods. He claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says at least 78 of its soldiers were killed during the offensive in northern Gaza.

Saturday’s shelling destroyed a block of about 50 residential buildings in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City and a six-story building in the Jabaliya urban refugee camp on the northern edge of the city, the Office said of the United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

More than 60 people were killed in the Shijaiyah strikes and more than 300 buried under rubble, observers said, citing the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Mahmoud Bassal, spokesman for Gaza Civil Defense, said rescuers lack bulldozers and other equipment to reach people buried under the rubble, confirming the Red Crescent estimate of around 300 people missing. He said the block was home to more than 1,000 people.

“Recovering the martyrs is extremely difficult,” he said in video comments from the scene of the attack.

Meanwhile, Harris told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi during a meeting that “under no circumstances” would the United States authorize the forced resettlement of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, an ongoing siege of Gaza or the redrawing of its borders, according to an American summary.

The war was sparked by an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and other militants that killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel. Around 240 people were captured.

The resumption of hostilities has increased concerns over 137 hostages, who the Israeli military says are still being held after 105 of them were freed during the recent truce. Israel released 240 Palestinians during the truce. Most of those freed by both sides were women and children.

Photos: Israel-Hamas War

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Magdy reported from Cairo and Becatoros from Athens. Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv contributed.

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