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Israel escalates Gaza strikes after medicine-for-aid deal

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Israel stepped up strikes on the south of war-torn Gaza on Wednesday, forward of the anticipated supply of medicines for hostages in change for humanitarian support beneath a newly brokered deal.

Air strikes and artillery hearth focused Khan Younis all through the evening within the southern Gaza Strip’s largest metropolis.

“It was the most difficult and intense night in Khan Younis since the start of the war,” mentioned Gaza’s Hamas authorities, whose well being ministry reported 81 deaths throughout the Palestinian territory.

Fighting has ravaged Gaza since Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 assaults on Israel that resulted within the dying of about 1,140 individuals, in line with an AFP tally primarily based on official Israeli figures.

At least 24,448 Palestinians, about 70% of them girls, younger kids and adolescents, have been killed in Israeli bombardments and floor assaults, in line with the Gaza well being ministry’s newest figures.

Hamas and different militants seized about 250 hostages throughout the October 7 assaults, and round 132 stay in Gaza, together with a minimum of 27 believed to have been killed.

The destiny of these nonetheless in captivity has gripped Israeli society, whereas a broader humanitarian disaster in Gaza marked by the specter of famine and illness has fuelled worldwide requires a ceasefire.

Medicine for hostages

The settlement introduced on Tuesday permitting medicines to succeed in the hostages and support to enter the besieged Palestinian territory was brokered by Qatar and France.

Under the deal, “medicine along with other humanitarian aid is to be delivered to civilians in Gaza… in exchange for delivering medication needed for Israeli captives in Gaza,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry mentioned.

The workplace of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the deal, beneath which 45 hostages are anticipated to obtain remedy.

The International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed the deal, saying it was “a much-needed moment of relief”.

A safety supply in Egypt mentioned a Qatari aircraft carrying medicines had arrived on Wednesday at El-Arish close to the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

France mentioned the medicine could be despatched to a hospital in Rafah the place they’d be handed over to the Red Cross and divided into batches earlier than being transferred to the hostages.

Hamas launched dozens of hostages in change for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel throughout a November ceasefire mediated by Qatar, which hosts the group’s political workplace.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby mentioned he was hopeful Qatar-brokered talks may result in one other such deal “soon”.

‘Why are they doing this?’

At the Abu Yussef Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, Palestinians stood in entrance of our bodies wrapped in shrouds, mourning the lack of family members killed in an in a single day Israeli strike.

“Why are they doing this? They are destroying us,” Umm Muhammad Abu Odeh, a girl displaced from the north Gaza city of Beit Hanun, informed AFP.

The Israelis “told us to go south, and we came here… but there is no safe place in Gaza, neither in the north, nor in the south, nor the middle.

“Everything is being struck. Everywhere is harmful.”

The United Nations says the war has displaced roughly 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.4 million people, many of whom have been forced to crowd into shelters and struggle to get food, water, fuel and medical care.

In Tel Aviv, anti-war protesters scuffled with police on Tuesday night, as some held up signs reading “End the siege” and “Stop the genocide”.

“Civilians are getting killed by the Israeli bombings,” said protester Michal Sapri. “It results in nothing. Our hostages are nonetheless there. We’re not going to launch them (by way of) extra navy energy.”

The Israeli public has kept up intense pressure on Netanyahu’s government to secure the return of the hostages, with officials repeatedly insisting military pressure is necessary to bring about any kind of deal.

On Tuesday, an Israeli kibbutz confirmed two hostages whose deaths were announced by Hamas in a video had been killed in Gaza.

West Bank violence

Violence has also surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank since October 7 to a level not seen since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, between 2000 and 2005.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said an Israeli strike killed four persons in the city of Tulkarem, in the north of the Palestinian territory.

The Israeli army said separately it killed a top Palestinian militant in an air strike in the West Bank that averted a “terrorist assault” he had been planning.

An AFP correspondent saw a pile of debris and mangled remains of a car that was hit in the strike near the Balata camp in the northern city of Nablus.

Israeli army raids and attacks by settlers have killed around 350 people in the territory, according to an AFP tally based on sources from both sides.

Fears are mounting that the Israel-Hamas conflict will trigger an all-out war across the Middle East, with growing violence involving allies of the Iran-backed Hamas.

The US military said it carried out fresh strikes in Yemen on Tuesday after the country’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed another missile attack on a cargo ship in the Red Sea.

It came just days after the United States and Britain bombed scores of targets inside Huthi-controlled Yemen in response to attacks by the rebels, who say they are targeting Israeli-linked shipping in the Red Sea in solidarity with Gaza.

Also on Tuesday, Israel’s army hit Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon, with a security source saying the strikes were “probably the most intense” on a single area since the Hamas-aligned militants first began exchanging cross-border fire with Israel after the start of the war in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Iran — which backs both the Houthis and the Hezbollah — carried out a missile attack in Iraq’s Kurdistan region against what its Revolutionary Guards alleged was an Israeli spy headquarters and a “gathering of anti-Iranian terrorist teams”.

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