Gaza war: Israel hits Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas (2024)

BySebastian Usher & Rushdi Aboualouf,BBC News, Jerusalem & Istanbul

Gaza war: Israel hits Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas (1)Gaza war: Israel hits Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas (2)AFP

Palestinians in Gaza City say they have experienced one of the most intense Israeli bombardments since Israel launched its war on Hamas after the group's unprecedented 7 October attack.

Columns of Israeli tanks are reported to be closing in on the centre of the city from several different directions.

The Gaza Civil Emergency Service says it believes a number of people have been killed but has so far been unable to reach them because of fighting in several districts in the east and west of Gaza City.

The Al-Ahli Baptist hospital is reported to have been evacuated, with its patients being taken to one of the only medical facilities still functioning in the area - the already overcrowded Indonesian hospital.

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official has told the BBC that indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel on a ceasefire and hostage release deal are expected to resume in Qatar within 48 hours.

A preliminary meeting would take place in Egypt on Monday between US, Israeli and Egyptian intelligence chiefs, the official said.

Ahead of the assault in Gaza City, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued evacuation orders for several neighbourhoods in the centre, including Tuffah, Daraj and the Old City.

But one of the areas that has come under the most intense assault, Tel al-Hawa, was not included in the evacuation order that was posted online with a map by the IDF Arabic spokesperson on Sunday.

On Monday afternoon, the IDF issued a new order that covered Tel al-Hawa as well as the Sabra and al-Rimal areas, to the north and west.

One resident of Gaza City, Abdel Ghani asked: "The enemy is behind us and the sea is in front of us, where shall we go?"

Others have also told the BBC that they do not know where to go. They say that only one route remains - to go north towards the port area of Gaza City.

Some fled districts after receiving an evacuation order, only to find that the area they moved to was coming under Israeli bombardment.

In al-Rimal, a freelance cameraman working for the BBC says that he did not receive any evacuation orders, but later learnt that his neighbour did.

He left the area with his family and headed north. They are now in the port area but lack basic necessities. He says he is struggling to find water for his children.

In a statement, the IDF confirmed that it launched what it called a new operation in Tel al-Halwa overnight, following what it said was intelligence of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad infrastructure and fighters in the area.

The military also said that it was operating at the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, in the area.

The IDF said that at the start of the operation, it gave warnings to civilians - and it said that it would open up a humanitarian corridor for people to leave the area.

Gaza war: Israel hits Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas (5)Gaza war: Israel hits Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas (6)Reuters

The latest Israeli offensive in Gaza comes as hopes have been rising that a ceasefire deal might finally be agreed.

A senior Palestinian official familiar with the talks has told the BBC that indirect negotiations between the Hamas and Israeli negotiating teams, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, will start in Doha within the next 48 hours.

The official also said a preparatory meeting was due to take place in Cairo on Monday between CIA director William Burns, the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, and the head of Egyptian Intelligence, Abbas Kamel.

The three intelligence chiefs are then all due to travel to Doha on Tuesday.

The official outlined to the BBC several key sticking points from the Hamas perspective:

  • Hamas wants Israeli forces to withdraw from both the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Philadelphi corridor, a strip of land running along the Egyptian border
  • Israel has vetoed Hamas’s demand for release from Israeli prisons of 100 senior figures from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah political factions

Hamas’s negotiating team has already dropped its requirement for Israel to accept a permanent ceasefire as a precondition for any potential deal.

The official said the negotiating process would be very long and complex, but that there was some degree of hope that it might work this time.

On Sunday, a statement by the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may have somewhat dampened expectations by insisting that any deal must not stop Israel from resuming fighting in Gaza until its war objectives are met.

Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly defined those aims as being the eradication of Hamas, both militarily and politically.

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Gaza war: Israel hits Gaza City as tanks re-enter central areas (2024)


Why is Gaza attacking Israel? ›

In addition, 251 Israelis and foreigners were taken captive into Gaza. Hamas said its attack was in response to Israel's continued occupation, blockade of Gaza, and settlements expansion, as well as alleged threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the plight of Palestinians.

How many Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza? ›

At least 307 Israeli troops have been killed and thousands wounded since October 27 when the ground invasion of Gaza was launched. At least 37,296 Palestinians – mostly women, children, and elderly – have died since the war began on October 7, Gaza's health ministry says.

What is the war in Gaza about in simple terms? ›

The Gaza–Israel conflict is a localized part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict beginning in 1948, when 200,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes, settling in the Gaza Strip as refugees. Since then, Israel has fought 15 wars against the Gaza Strip.

Who has attacked Gaza? ›

Watch: Families in Gaza City attempting to return home to collect belongings. Since the beginning of Israel's war on Gaza, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced, as Israeli forces bombard the besieged enclave. Despite the risk of air strikes and shelling, families are desperate to return to their homes.

Who actually owns the Gaza Strip? ›

Since 2006, the Gaza Strip has been controlled by Hamas, an armed group and political party that was founded during the first Palestinian “intifada,” or uprising, against Israeli rule in 1987–93. (The name Hamas is an acronym for “The Islamic Resistance Movement” in Arabic.)

What does Israel want from Gaza? ›

“Many of us take [Israel's] real objective to be the endless Israeli presence and takeover [of Gaza] and the liquidation of Palestinian presence there,” Rahman said. Israel's goal is to “ethnically cleanse as many Palestinians as possible from Gaza.

Why does the US support Israel? ›

Bilateral relations have evolved from an initial American policy of sympathy and support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in 1948, to a partnership that links a small but powerful state with a superpower attempting to balance influence against competing interests in the region, namely Russia and its allies.

Do Israelis support the war in Gaza? ›

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 39% of Israelis say Israel's military response against Hamas in Gaza has been about right, while 34% say it has not gone far enough and 19% think it has gone too far.

Who owned the land first, Israel or Palestine in the Bible? ›

Taking stock. By more than 1,000 years, “Israel” predates “Palestine.” The land then became home primarily to an Arab population, again for more than a millennium. Both Jews and Arabs thus have a legitimate claim to the land.

Did Gaza ever belong to Israel? ›

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Egypt administered the newly formed Gaza Strip. It was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. Between 1994 and 1999, Israel transferred security and civilian responsibility for much of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority.

Who is responsible for the war in Gaza? ›

The Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented assault on Israel on 7 October, with hundreds of gunmen infiltrating communities near the Gaza Strip.

Which country controls Gaza? ›

Because Israel controls all access into the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Palestinians living there are under military occupation and are subject to Israeli restrictions, often depending on aid for food, water, and supplies.

What is the reason for Israel and Palestine fighting? ›

Key aspects of the conflict include the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, borders, security, water rights, the permit regime, Palestinian freedom of movement, and the Palestinian right of return.

Why did Israel give up Gaza? ›

The motivation behind the disengagement was described by Sharon's top aide as a means of isolating Gaza and avoiding international pressure on Israel to reach a political settlement with the Palestinians. The disengagement plan was implemented in August 2005 and completed in September 2005.

What is Hamas fighting for? ›

The group is committed to armed resistance against Israel and the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel's place. HAMAS has been the de facto governing body in the Gaza Strip since 2007, when it ousted the Palestinian Authority from power.


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