From Devastated North to Besieged South, the conflict between the Israeli forces and Hamas militants continues.
Due to the conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas militants escalating in Gaza’s main southern city, Khan Yunis, the region has been plunged into one of the most intense periods of combat in nearly two months of warfare.
The fighting, stemming from the October 7 attacks, has seen Israeli troops, tanks, armored vehicles, and bulldozers rolling into the second-largest city in Gaza, further displacing civilians who had already fled the devastation in the north.
According to the latest reports, the conflict’s focus has now shifted southward following extensive fighting and bombardment that reduced much of northern Gaza to rubble, compelling approximately 1.9 million people to evacuate.
The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, Herzi Halevi, stated that their forces have encircled the Khan Yunis area and are targeting Hamas strongholds in this region after securing numerous strongholds in northern Gaza.
Ongoing Military Actions and Casualties
Reports from AFP journalists on the ground describe Khan Yunis as nearly deserted, with residents seeking shelter from relentless shelling and artillery fire.
The toll on civilians has been severe, with hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of the dead and wounded.
This wave of conflict traces back to Israel declaring war on Hamas after the militant group’s October 7 attacks, resulting in a reported 1,200 casualties, mostly civilians, and around 240 hostages taken.
This is an urgent call for action. pic.twitter.com/n9q5VbCPNd
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 6, 2023
The latest count from the Hamas government’s media office indicates 16,248 deaths, which they say are predominantly women and children.
Israel has pledged to dismantle Hamas and rescue the 138 hostages still held in Gaza, even after several were released during a brief ceasefire.
Daniel Hagari, an army spokesman, stressed the importance of the international community’s action and called for the Red Cross to gain access to the hostages held by Hamas.
“The international community must take action. The Red Cross must have access to the hostages that are in the hands of Hamas,” said Hagari, quoted by The Defense Post.
Dire Humanitarian Crisis
The catastrophic casualties in Gaza have triggered global concern, exacerbated by dire shortages caused by an Israeli siege restricting the entry of food, water, fuel, and medicines.
Displaced residents like Hassan al-Qadi from Khan Yunis highlighted the city’s suffering, describing to reporters the widespread destruction and relentless shelling, particularly affecting those arriving from northern Gaza who face homelessness and the agony of searching for missing family members.
“We are not mere numbers. We are human beings,” he said.
The Israeli army reported striking approximately 250 targets in Gaza within 24 hours, continuing efforts to locate weapons, underground tunnels, explosives, and additional military infrastructure.
Amidst this, Israeli military sources confirmed the deaths of several Hamas commanders in an airstrike near the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza.
Our forces continue to operate against Hamas’ leadership in Gaza:
🔴IDF forces eliminated several Hamas commanders and operatives of the Northern Gaza Strip Brigade—the second largest brigade of Hamas—who were hiding in a tunnel located near the Indonesian Hospital during the… pic.twitter.com/mydADVsJaX
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 6, 2023
Battleground Scenarios: Clashes Between Militants and Israeli Troops
Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters engaged in battles with Israeli troops in an attempt to prevent their advance into Khan Yunis and surrounding areas.
The Hamas-run health ministry reported heavy casualties due to strikes in areas east of Khan Yunis and the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
Israel had previously advised civilians in northern Gaza to seek refuge in the south, prompting many to flee to Khan Yunis in hopes of safety.
However, the continuous violence and displacement have sparked panic, fear, and anxiety among the population, exacerbated by warnings pushing people into an increasingly confined area.
Displacement, International Concern, and Pleas for Ceasefire
The Norwegian Refugee Council criticized the situation, labeling it among the worst assaults on any civilian population in recent times.
International aid groups condemned the successive orders for civilians to flee, stating that they were running out of options and living in deepening horror.
The United Nations agencies, including UNICEF and the UN human rights chief Volker Turk, have urgently called for a ceasefire, emphasizing the collective punishment faced by Gazans due to the Hamas attacks.
However, despite Israel’s publication of a map intended to facilitate civilian evacuation, UNICEF deemed the creation of safe zones within Gaza as unfeasible.
.@UN, hear a loud noise yesterday?
That was the sound of 12 Hamas rockets launched toward Israeli civilians in southern Israel.
Hamas is the enemy of humanity and makes itself a threat to the entire world. pic.twitter.com/0RDeUfH5j7
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 7, 2023
A report by Reuters described the toll of Palestinian medics as Gaza’s hospitals overflowed with dead and severely injured, and with supplies drying out fast, the numbers of those wounded bleeding to death are growing by the minute.
“The Israeli occupation is deliberately liquidating the healthcare presence in northern Gaza…. Eight hundred thousand northern Gaza residents don’t have health services,” Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said in a statement.
The conflict’s toll extends beyond Gaza, sparking fears of wider regional turmoil, including exchanges of fire with Iran-backed Hezbollah across Israel’s border with Lebanon.
Additionally, the occupied West Bank witnessed increased violence, with clashes resulting in casualties, intensifying the Palestinian fatalities during the Israeli-Hamas conflict in that region.
As the conflict persists, the casualty count continues to rise, with 83 Israeli troops reported killed inside Gaza since the war’s initiation. The dire humanitarian crisis, escalating violence, and regional implications underscore the urgency for international intervention to mitigate the escalating catastrophe in the region.