Israel has ramped up its assault on the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, causing a surge of wounded individuals being rushed to local hospitals. As pressure from the United States mounts to prevent further casualties, Israel claims to be more precise in its operations while expanding its offensive into southern Gaza after devastating much of the northern region. With airstrikes and ground attacks already displacing three-fourths of the area’s 2.3 million residents, the situation grows increasingly dire.
The Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis has seen an influx of ambulance arrivals carrying dozens of wounded individuals throughout the night. Residents report that Israeli troops have advanced into the neighboring town of Bani Suheila following heavy airstrikes. Halima Abdel-Rahman, who had previously fled her home in Beit Lahiya in the north, affirms that explosions could be heard throughout the night, stating, “They are very close. It’s the same scenario we saw in the north.”
Satellite images from Sunday reveal the presence of approximately 150 Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles positioned less than 6 kilometers north of downtown Khan Younis. The army has not provided any comments on these deployments, as they rarely disclose such information.
During the early stages of the conflict, Israel ordered a complete evacuation of northern Gaza and prevented those who left from returning. Now, as the offensive moves southward, nearly two dozen neighborhoods in and around Khan Younis face compulsory evacuations. This further reduces the already limited areas where civilians can seek refuge in central and southern Gaza by more than a quarter.
Palestinians Fear For Their Safety
Palestinians in the besieged territory of Gaza are living in constant fear as Israeli strikes continue to target various areas. They feel that there is no place where they can be truly safe, and many are reluctant to leave their homes out of fear that they will never be allowed to return.
Israel’s Objective: Dismantle Hamas’ Military
Israel justifies its actions by stating the need to dismantle Hamas’ extensive military infrastructure and remove them from power. Their goal is to prevent another attack similar to the one on October 7th, which sparked the current conflict. During that surprise assault, Hamas and other Palestinian militants killed approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and captured over 240 individuals, including men, women, and children.
Civilian Protection Efforts Vs. Hamas Tactics
The Israeli military claims that it takes every precaution to spare civilians during its operations. They accuse Hamas of using civilians as human shields, as the militants operate from densely populated residential areas. These areas serve as a complex network of tunnels, bunkers, rocket launchers, and sniper nests.
The Challenge of Eliminating Hamas
Hamas is deeply rooted in Palestinian society, and their determination to put an end to decades of Israeli military rule resonates with most Palestinians, regardless of their stance on the group’s ideology or their attacks on Israeli civilians. This poses a significant challenge when it comes to eliminating Hamas without causing massive casualties and further displacements.
Hamas’ Resilience Amidst Intense Bombardment
Despite facing weeks of relentless bombardment by Israel, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar, was still able to engage in complex negotiations for a ceasefire. He even orchestrated the release of over 100 Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for the freedom of 240 Palestinian prisoners last week. Additionally, Palestinian militants have not ceased their rocket attacks into Israel, both before and after the truce.