Israeli Airstrikes Intensify in Southern Gaza, Casualties Rise

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has seen a significant escalation, with the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health reporting 22 additional fatalities in an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, located in southern Gaza.

by Faruk Imamovic
Israeli Airstrikes Intensify in Southern Gaza, Casualties Rise
© Getty Images/Ahmad Hasaballah

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has seen a significant escalation, with the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health reporting 22 additional fatalities in an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, located in southern Gaza. This report adds to the earlier account of 14 deaths in the nearby Al-Mawasi area.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the military wing of Hamas have identified Khan Younis as the current epicenter of combat, with numerous videos from the region showing multiple explosions. The IDF has confirmed that its combat focus includes Khan Younis and Deir al Balah in central Gaza.

In a statement, the IDF detailed its operations, including the targeting of a Hamas weapons depot in Khan Younis and the elimination of militants who were allegedly attempting to plant explosive devices near Israeli forces.

Ground Operations and IDF Claims

The IDF has further reported significant impacts on Hamas' operational and command capabilities in Khan Younis. According to their statements, many militants from the northern and eastern battalions of the Khan Younis Brigade have been killed.

The IDF also claims to have dismantled Hamas tunnel networks used by Nukhba operatives to support the brigade. In field interrogations, captured Hamas fighters allegedly admitted to substantial casualties within their ranks, including two platoon commanders.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has expressed concerns over the intense shelling around Al-Amal Hospital and the association’s headquarters in Khan Younis. This shelling has severely hindered the movement of ambulance crews and restricted access to the injured in the targeted areas.

Civilian Impact and International Concerns

The Israeli military has issued warnings to civilians in Gaza, advising against using Salah Al-Din street, the main north-south route, as they intensify operations in central and southern parts of the territory.

Civilians have been directed to use Al-Rasheed street along the coast instead. Recent strikes in Al-Mawasi and neighboring Khan Younis have resulted in at least 36 Palestinian deaths. Thousands of displaced Palestinians have moved to Al-Mawasi as the IDF intensifies its military operations.

The Hamas-run Ministry of Health reports that the Israeli attacks in Gaza have killed over 22,438 people since the conflict began, with 70% of the victims being women and children. In December, the UN's children's agency labeled Gaza as "the most dangerous place in the world to be a child," highlighting the grave impact of the conflict on the region's youngest and most vulnerable inhabitants.

This statement underscores the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, which continues to deteriorate amidst the escalating violence.

Recent Strikes and Growing Casualties

The situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate with more strikes in areas such as Al-Mawasi and Khan Younis.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that an Israeli strike in Al-Mawasi resulted in the deaths of fourteen people, including nine children. The same source stated that another strike in Khan Younis claimed 22 lives. The IDF has been pressing further into central and southern Gaza, intensifying its military operations.

Amidst this, civilians have been advised to avoid Salah Al-Din street, the primary north-south route, and use Al-Rasheed street instead. However, the extensive damage to telecommunications and electrical infrastructure raises concerns about how effectively these advisories are reaching the residents of Gaza.

Gaza© Getty Images/Ahmad Hasaballah

Impact on Medical Facilities and Humanitarian Efforts

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has reported intense and continuous shelling near Al-Amal Hospital and its headquarters in Khan Younis, significantly hampering relief efforts.

The IDF has claimed responsibility for striking a Hamas weapons depot in Khan Younis, an action that resulted in the deaths of several individuals labeled as "saboteurs." This attack followed a previous bombardment that tragically impacted the PRCS's headquarters.

The Humanitarian Toll and International Response The latest figures from the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza state that 22,438 people have been killed and 57,614 injured as a result of the ongoing Israeli military operations.

The Israeli military's actions, particularly in densely populated civilian areas, have prompted criticism and concern internationally. Notably, comments by Israeli officials advocating for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza have drawn widespread condemnation from countries including Saudi Arabia, several European nations, and the United States.

Personal Accounts Amidst the Chaos Amidst the statistical reports of casualties and destruction, personal stories emerge that highlight the human cost of the conflict. Doron Katz Asher, a freed Hamas hostage, shared her harrowing experience.

She recounted how her two young daughters were taken hostage during the October 7 attacks in southern Israel and subsequently moved to Gaza. They were released in November during a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

“They didn’t give us a lot of information, they mainly tried to say that Hamas wants to release us but in Israel no one cares about us,” Asher said. “That we won’t return to live in the kibbutz because it’s not our house – it’s not the place where we belong”.

Political Fallout in the United States The White House's approach to the war in Gaza has not been without its critics. Tariq Habash, a Palestinian American policy adviser, resigned from the US Department of Education, expressing his inability to remain silent in the face of the administration's perceived indifference to the plight of innocent Palestinian lives. His resignation marks the second known departure of a US official over policy disagreements related to the conflict.