KHAN YOUNIS :
ISRAEL bombarded the Gaza Strip early on Friday, hitting areas where Palestinians had been told to seek safety, and it began evacuating a sizable Israeli town near the border with Lebanon, the latest sign of a potential ground invasion of Gaza that could trigger regional turmoil.
Palestinians in Gaza reported heavy airstrikes in Khan Youni, a town in the territory’s south, and ambulances carrying men, women and children streamed into the local Nasser Hospital. The hospital, Gaza’s second largest, already was overflowing with patients and people seeking shelter.
The Israeli military said it had struck more than 100 targets across Gaza linked to the territory’s Hamas rulers, including a tunnel and arms depots. On Thursday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant ordered ground troops to prepare to see Gaza “from the inside,” hinting at a ground offensive aimed at crushing Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers nearly two weeks after their bloody incursion into Israel. Officials have given no timetable for such an operation.
Over a million people have been displaced in Gaza, with many heeding Israel’s orders to
evacuate the northern part of the sealed-off enclave on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called areas in south Gaza “safe zones” earlier this week, Israeli military spokesman Nir Dinar said Friday: “There are no safe zones.”
UN officials said with the bombings across all of Gaza, some Palestinians who had fled the north appeared to be going back.
“The strikes, coupled with extremely difficult living conditions in the south, appear to have pushed some to return to the north, despite the continuing heavy bombing there,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN human rights office, said.
Gaza’s overwhelmed hospitals are rationing their dwindling medical supplies and fuel for generators, as authorities worked out logistics for a desperately needed aid delivery from Egypt.
Doctors in darkened wards across Gaza performed surgeries by the light of mobile phones and used vinegar to treat infected wounds.