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Israel expands fighting into southern Gaza

Israel is urging Palestinians in southern parts of the territory to evacuate as it goes after Hamas targets.
Israel expands fighting into southern Gaza
Posted at 6:07 AM, Dec 04, 2023

Israel is expanding the scope of its ground offensive in Gaza following the end of its temporary truce with Hamas last week.

The nation is urging Palestinians in southern parts of the territory to evacuate as it goes after targets in those areas.

It's thought that nearly two million people are now within the 90 square miles of southern and central Gaza.

Evacuation maps issued by the Israeli military showed it also wanted residents in a 24 square mile area in and around the southern city of Khan Younis to evacuate, which would further restrict the area civilians have access to. The U.N. said some 50,000 people displaced from northern Gaza were currently in the city.

Internet and telephone networks buckled again on Monday, according to the Palestinian telecom provider PalTel. Communications have been unreliable at multiple points during the war, leaving residents in Gaza unable to get messages in or out for hours and even days at a time.

The Israeli military said it will be operating inside Khan Younis over the next few days, saying that is an area it believes Hamas operatives are hiding. It is understood that Israel's operation in the northern part of the Gaza Strip is now finished, potentially signaling that "Phase 2" of its war with Hamas is well underway.

The expanded offensive is apparently aimed at eliminating Hamas leaders before Israel accepts another pause in fighting to free more hostages being held by the terrorist group. But it could also worsen the desperation among Palestinians trying to flee the violence.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge in southern Gaza as most of the fighting raged in the north. More than three-quarters of Gaza's population has already been displaced.

In the meantime, the U.S. Is urging Israel to get more aid into the war-battered territory. U.S. officials want to see humanitarian aid shipments restored to levels seen during the truce, when about 200 trucks per day made their way into the territory.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a personal appeal.

"Democracies like ours are stronger and more secure when we uphold the law of war," said Austin. "So we will continue to press Israel to protect civilians, and to ensure the robust flow of humanitarian aid."

SEE MORE: The humanitarian crisis in Gaza deepens as fighting expands

There are more than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza. Aid workers say the current flow of aid is far too little to meet the basic needs of the population.

Additionally, United Nations humanitarian aid agencies are very concerned over the potential spread of illness. They are seeing an increased number of people with lice, diarrhea and respiratory infections.

The expanded offensive throughout Gaza includes widespread airstrikes. Israel said strikes hit about 200 Hamas targets in Gaza since the truce was lifted. A spokesman for the Israeli military said one of those strikes did kill a top Hamas commander in Gaza. He said that commander was one of the leaders behind the Oct. 7 terrorist attack.

Tensions on Israel's northern border are also continuing to escalate with a number of cross-border skirmishes. Hezbollah has laid claims that it fired anti-tank missiles over the border, injuring a number of people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning Hezbollah not to get involved, saying Lebanon will be destroyed if Hezbollah enters the war.

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