Israeli forces killed another Hamas commander on Wednesday in its second attack on Gaza’s largest refugee camp in two days, Israeli military officials said, as the first group of civilians evacuated from the besieged enclave crossed into Egypt.
Continuing its offensive against Hamas militants, Israel has again bombarded the densely populated Gaza Strip from land, sea and air as part of its campaign to destroy the Islamist group following a deadly attack in southern Israel on October 7.
Palestinians sifted through the rubble in a desperate search for people trapped beneath it following Wednesday’s Israeli attack on the Jabalia refugee camp, located in Gaza’s northern urban sprawl. “It’s a massacre,” said a witness to the attack.
There was no immediate information on possible victims of the second explosion, which came a day after Palestinian health officials said an Israeli airstrike killed about 50 people and injured 150 others.
The Israeli military later issued a statement saying its fighter jets struck a Hamas command and control complex in Jabalia “based on accurate intelligence”, killing the head of the Islamist group’s anti-tank missile unit, Muhammad A’sar.
“Hamas deliberately builds its terrorist infrastructure under, around and within civilian buildings, intentionally endangering the civilians of Gaza,” the statement said.
Israel said Tuesday’s attack in the same camp killed Ibrahim Biari, who it said was the leader of what it called the Oct. 7 “murderous terrorist attack.”
The people evacuated to Egypt had been trapped in Gaza since the start of the war more than three weeks ago. They were taken through the Rafah border crossing and underwent security checks, officials said.
Doctor Fathi Abu al-Hassan, a US passport holder, described hellish conditions inside Gaza without water, food or shelter.
“We open our eyes to the dead and we close our eyes to the dead,” he said as he waited to cross into Egypt. “If this happens in any other country… even in the desert, (people) will come together to (help) us,” he said.
Those evacuated on Wednesday included at least 320 of the 500 on an initial list of foreign passport holders, as well as dozens of seriously injured Gazans, said Egyptian sources and a Palestinian official, the first beneficiaries of the agreement brokered between Egypt, Israel and Hamas.
At least 49 evacuated doctors arrived in Egypt, the governor of Egypt’s Sinai province later told reporters.
Nahed Abu Taeema, director of Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, told Reuters that 19 seriously injured patients from his hospital would be among those evacuated as they required “advanced surgeries that cannot be done here due to lack of capabilities, especially women and children.” .
Gaza border officials said the border would reopen on Thursday to allow more people off a list of foreign passport holders to leave. A diplomatic source briefed on the Egyptian plans said that about 7,500 foreign passport holders they would be removed from Gaza over the course of about two weeks.
Israel sent ground forces into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip late last week after weeks of air and artillery strikes in retaliation for Hamas’ surprise attack in which 1,400 mostly civilian Israelis were killed in a single day, Israeli officials say. Israel.
Gaza’s Health Ministry says at least 8,796 Palestinians in the narrow coastal enclave, including 3,648 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes since October 7.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that Washington does not believe Hamas could be involved in the future government of Gaza when the war ends.
Kirby also said that despite the rising number of civilian deaths in Gaza, the United States does not believe now is the time for a general ceasefire, but that humanitarian pauses in hostilities are necessary.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Israel and Jordan on Friday, the State Department said. His trip will include talks with Netanyahu for an update on Israel’s military objectives, he said.
Despite progress on the humanitarian front, Israeli warplanes, warships and artillery attacked Gaza on Wednesday, inflicting more casualties among the civilian population, Palestinian residents said.
Hospitals have struggled to cope with shutdowns forced by fuel shortages, something Israel has refused to allow humanitarian convoys to take to the destroyed enclave, citing concerns it would be diverted to Hamas fighters.
Desperate humanitarian conditions have caused concern around the world as food, fuel, clean water and medicine run out.
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