Warplanes Hit Targets In Gaza As Israel Resumes Offensive, Warning Of Attacks To Come In South

Israeli fighter jets hit targets in the Gaza Strip minutes after a weeklong truce expired on Friday, as the war with Hamas resumed in full force. Black smoke billowed from the besieged territory and Israel dropped leaflets over parts of southern Gaza urging people to leave their homes, suggesting it was preparing to widen its offensive.

Renewed hostilities heightened concerns for the about 140 hostages who remain in Gaza, after more than 100 were freed as part of the truce. Qatar, which has served as a mediator along with Egypt, said negotiators from both sides were still trying to reach an agreement on restarting the ceasefire.

The resumption of hostilities “complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said.

The renewed fighting came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli officials and urged them to do more to protect Palestinian civilians as they seek to destroy Hamas. Blinken arrived Friday at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, where he was to meet with Arab foreign ministers and other officials.

It was not clear to what extent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will heed the appeals of the United States, Israel’s most important ally. Netanyahu’s office said Friday that Israel “is committed to achieving the goals of the war: Releasing the hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to the residents of Israel.”

Only hours in to the renewed offensive, the Health Ministry of Hamas-controlled Gaza said 32 people had been killed and dozens wounded.

In the leaflets it dropped in southern Gaza, Israel urged people to leave homes east of the city of Khan Younis. The leaflets also warned that Khan Younis was now a “dangerous battle zone.”

The Israeli military also released a map carving up the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered parcels, and asked residents to learn the number associated with their location in case of an eventual evacuation. It said the map would eventually be interactive, but it was not immediately clear how Palestinians would be updated on their designated parcel numbers and calls for evacuation.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled northern Gaza earlier in the war, with many taking shelter in Khan Younis and other places in the south.

Hamas freed eight additional Israeli hostages and Israel released another group of 30 Palestinian prisoners under a last-minute agreement to extend their cease-fire by another day in Gaza. (Dec 1)

One of the first airstrikes Friday destroyed a large building in Khan Younis. Moments later, residents were seen frantically searching the rubble for survivors as medics approached. One wounded person was carried away on a stretcher.

In Hamad City, a Qatari-funded housing development near the city, a strike hit an apartment in a multi-story residential building, while other parts of the building appeared largely intact.

Elsewhere, a strike hit a home near Gaza City in the north, and in the refugee camp of Maghazi, near the center of the Gaza Strip, rescuers clawed through the rubble of a large building hit by warplanes. A foot stuck out of the tangle of concrete and wiring.

Israel has said it is targeting Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on Hamas, accusing the militants of operating in residential neighborhoods. Since the war erupted Oct. 7, in response to a deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel, many of those killed in Israeli bombardments have been women and children.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shake hands prior to a meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. Blinken told Israeli leaders on November 30 that a temporary truce in their war with Hamas was "producing results" and should continue. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shake hands prior to a meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

In Israel, sirens warning of incoming rockets blared at several communal farms near Gaza, a sign that Hamas also resumed attacks, but there were not reports of hits or damage.

White smoke trails could be seen in the skies over Sderot on the border with northern Gaza after Israel’s missile protection systems activated.




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