FE Today Logo

Heavy battles in Gaza City on eve of new truce talks

UN 'appalled' by Israel evacuation orders as Gaza battles rage on

July 10, 2024 00:00:00

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories, July 9 (AFP): Israel pushed on with a major military offensive in war-ravaged Gaza City on Tuesday that the UN said has once again displaced tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Troops, tanks and aircraft were fighting in Gaza's biggest urban area on the eve of new truce talks in Qatar that aim to free the hostages and halt the conflict raging into its 10th month.

A source with knowledge of the talks said CIA director William Burns and Israel's Mossad chief David Barnea would travel to Doha on Wednesday and also meet the Qatari prime minister, a key mediator.

Hamas, whose October 7 attack started the war, has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of deliberately stepping up battles in Gaza City and in far-southern Rafah in order to thwart a ceasefire agreement.

The Islamist group's Qatar-based political chief Ismail Haniyeh said he had made "urgent contact" with mediators, warning that the "catastrophic consequences" of the battles could "reset the negotiation process to square one".

Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, described the latest Gaza City fighting as "the most intense in months", with militants using rockets, mortars and explosives.

Israeli forces -- after almost two weeks of battles in Gaza City's eastern Shujaiya district -- on Monday intensified fighting and bombardment across the city's east, west and south.

Residents reported overnight helicopter strikes, "explosions and numerous gun battles" in the city's southwest.

Another report adds: The United Nations protested on Tuesday over the latest mass evacuation orders issued by Israel in Gaza as the army said it had killed dozens of militants in "close-quarters combat" in its latest offensive in Gaza City. Israel extended its evacuation warning to cover most of Gaza's main city on Monday and intense fighting erupted.

Israel has now issued three evacuation orders for Gaza City and one for the south of the Palestinian territory since June 27 in a new stepping up of its military operations. The UN says tens of thousands of civilians have fled.

Gaza City residents reported "explosions and numerous gun battles" and helicopter strikes through the night in southwestern neighbourhoods.

Residents said civilians were still leaving the city and many of the displaced said they had already moved from one evacuation zone only to find their new place of refuge had become a target too.

Share if you like