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Gaza war: Battles rage as Israeli troops intensify Jabalia and Rafah operations


Wafa also said there had been violent shelling of the Zeitoun neighbourhood, in eastern Gaza City, from which Israeli troops withdrew on Wednesday following a separate six-day operation.

The IDF said the troops had “eliminated dozens of terrorists in encounters and airstrikes, destroyed terrorist infrastructure and located many weapons”.

Residents of Zeitoun told BBC Arabic’s Gaza Today programme that many had been forced to flee because of the intensity of the bombardment and fighting.

“The biggest problem we face in Zeitoun is that no ambulance or civil defence [rescue team] gets here. So, if your son is injured, he will continue bleeding before your eyes until he dies,” said Atef al-Mashalti.

“Such a thing makes any father feel helpless. Fear has taken hold of my son to the point that he has to repeat the Shahadah [the Islamic declaration of faith] in anticipation of death at any moment.”

On Tuesday night, Gaza’s Hamas-run Civil Defence force said it had recovered the bodies of five people, including a woman and her child, in two Israeli air strikes in Sheikh Radwan and another part of Gaza City.

The IDF said aircraft had struck about 80 “terror targets” across Gaza over the past day, including military compounds and weapons storage facilities.

Israel scaled down military operations in the north in January after declaring that it had “dismantled” Hamas’s battalions there. But that left a power vacuum in which the group has been able to rebuild.

An estimated 300,000 people trapped in the devastated region are also experiencing a “full-blown famine” due to a lack of aid deliveries, according to the head of the World Food Programme.

Israel says it needs to send troops into Rafah, in the south, because Hamas’s last remaining battalions are based there along with the group’s leaders and surviving hostages.

The UN and Western powers have warned that an all-out ground assault could lead to mass civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe.

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