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Israel pounds central Gaza, dozens more Palestinians killed

PALESTINIAN authorities reported dozens more deaths, including 20 in one attack as Israeli forces pounded central Gaza by land, sea and air.

Reflecting Israeli resolve to wipe out Hamas despite international calls for a ceasefire amid a humanitarian crisis, Israel’s military chief Herzi Halevi said on Tuesday the war would last many months. There were “no shortcuts in dismantling a terrorist organization,” he said.

A Gaza health ministry statement said an Israeli air strike killed 20 Palestinians on Wednesday near the Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

A telecommunications outage in much of the enclave hindered efforts to reach Palestinian casualties overnight but was gradually coming back online at mid-morning.

In central Gaza’s Al-Maghazi district, five Palestinians were killed in one air strike, medics said, while to the north in Gaza City health officials said the bodies of seven Palestinians killed overnight arrived at Al Shifa Hospital.

Residents also reported heavy fighting east and north of the Al-Bureij district and in the nearby village of Juhr Ad-Deek, where they said Israeli tanks are stationed.

Israel’s military on Wednesday reported three more soldiers killed in action in Gaza, bringing total military losses in the enclave since ground operations began on Oct. 20 to 166.

The war erupted after Hamas killed 1,200 people and captured 240 hostages in a cross-border rampage on Oct. 7, the deadliest day in Israel’s history. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded with an assault that has laid much of Hamas-ruled Gaza to waste.

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The Gaza health ministry said Israeli forces had killed 195 Palestinians and wounded 325 in the past 24 hours, bringing the recorded toll to 21,110 killed and 55,243 wounded in Israeli attacks in the coastal Palestinian territory since October 7.

Nearly all the enclave’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes, many several times.

Meanwhile in Tel Aviv, a huge clock counted the time elapsed since Hamas took the hostages as families kept up their campaign for their loved ones to be freed.

LEBANON BORDER

Israel has intensified its raids this week, particularly in a central area just south of the waterway that bisects the narrow coastal strip. The Israeli army told civilians to leave the area, though many said there was nowhere left to go.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday its warplanes had also targeted Hezbollah military sites and other locations in Lebanon. Huge plumes of smoke were seen on the border.

Security sources said Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, had fired the most rockets and weaponised drones against Israel on Wednesday that it has in a single day since the spate of daily clashes began.

Further highlighting the difficulties in treating the wounded in Gaza, the World Health Organization released footage, taken mostly on Monday and Tuesday at several hospitals, with WHO emergency medical team coordinator Sean Casey saying Gaza’s health capacity was 20% of what it was 80 days ago.

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“We’re seeing almost only trauma cases come through the door and at a scale that’s quite difficult to believe. It’s a bloodbath as we said before, it’s carnage.”

Casey said nowhere in Gaza was safe.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday the Palestinian Red Crescent Society compound in Khan Younis was hit on Tuesday. It said on X the strike had caused damage and spread panic among those working there and displaced people sheltering in the facility.

Israel says it is doing what it can to protect civilians, and blames Hamas for putting them in harm’s way by operating among them, which Hamas denies. Even Israel’s closest ally the U.S. has said it should do more to reduce civilian deaths from what President Joe Biden has called “indiscriminate bombing”.

The Israeli military said it was continuing to strike militant targets in Gaza, at one point using its navy to hit suspects deemed to pose a threat to ground troops.

In the Shejaia district of Gaza City, an Israeli attack on militant fighters on foot caused secondary explosions, indicating the area was rigged with explosives to attack soldiers, a military statement said.

WEST BANK

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, six youths were killed in an Israeli raid into the city of Tulkarm, the Palestinian health ministry said. An Israeli military statement said Israeli forces on a counter-terrorism operation came under attack by militants who threw explosive devices at them. The attackers were struck by an Israeli Air Force aircraft, it said.

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Residents said the youths were neither fighters nor militants.

“It was a sight I could not see, it was something you cannot look at,” Saida Famawi, the mother of one of the youths, said.

In an interview with Egyptian TV, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel intended to stay in Gaza after the war “but the whole world does not agree with it”.

He said the U.S. could “order” Israel to agree that Gaza becomes part of a future Palestinian state.

By NIDAL AL-MUGHRABI, BASSAM MASOUD and DAN WILLIAMS

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