Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. (AP/PTI)
By Wafaa Shurafa and Samy Magdy
DEIR AL-BALAH (Gaza Strip),
ISRAELI ground forces attacked Hamas militants and infrastructure on Tuesday in northern Gaza, which the military said some 8,00,000 people have fled since the war began more than three weeks ago, even as warplanes continued to strike from end to end of the sealed-off territory.
Buoyed by the first successful rescue of a captive held by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire and again vowed to crush the militant group’s ability to govern Gaza or threaten Israel following its bloody October 7 rampage, which ignited the war.
The military said one of the estimated 240 captives seized by Palestinian militants during the wide-ranging assault was rescued in a special forces operation, lending support to Netanyahu’s contention that the ground war will help facilitate the recovery of more hostages rather than putting them in increased danger.
The Army said Pvt. Ori Megidish, 19, was “doing well” and had been reunited with her family.
Hamas has released four hostages, and has said it would let the others go in return for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, which has dismissed the offer. Hamas released a short video on Monday showing three other female captives.
More than half the territory’s 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, with hundreds of thousands sheltering in packed UN-run
schools-turned-shelters or in hospitals alongside thousands of wounded patients. Israeli strikes have hit closer to several northern hospitals in recent days, alarming medics. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, says nearly 6,72,000 Palestinians are sheltering in its schools and other facilities — four times their capacity. Thousands of people broke into its aid warehouses over the weekend to take food, as supplies of basic goods have dwindled. There has been no central electricity in Gaza for weeks, and Israel has barred the entry of fuel needed to power emergency generators for hospitals and homes.
The military said it shot down a drone outside Israeli airspace on Tuesday near the Red Sea city of Eilat, without providing further details.
In the occupied West Bank, where Israeli-Palestinian violence has also surged, the army demolished the family home of Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas official exiled over a decade ago. Ali Kaseeb, head of the local council in the village of Aroura, said the home had been vacant for 15 years. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said ground operations in Gaza are focused on the north, including Gaza City, which he said was the “center of gravity of Hamas.”
UN agency in Gaza says urgent ceasefire is ‘a matter of life and death’ for millions of Palestinians: THE head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees told a UN emergency meeting Monday “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire has become a matter of life and death for millions,” accusing Israel of “collective punishment” of Palestinians and the forced displacement of civilians. Philippe Lazzarini warned that a further breakdown of civil order following the looting of the agency’s warehouses by Palestinians searching for food and other aid “will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the largest UN agency in Gaza to continue operating.”