Sat. May 25th, 2024

Israeli troops fought Hamas militants in multiple battles across the Gaza Strip, forcing new waves of Palestinian mass displacement, as Israel marked a sombre Independence Day on Tuesday.

Clashes have rocked the densely crowded far-southern city of Rafah but also flared again in northern and central Gaza, months after troops and tanks first entered those areas.

The United States has repeatedly urged a Gaza ceasefire and called on its ally Israel to devise “a strategic endgame” and post-war plan, said White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

This would help Israel avoid “getting mired in a counterinsurgency campaign that never ends and ultimately saps Israel’s strength and vitality,” Sullivan told a briefing in Washington on Monday.

Recent battles and heavy Israeli bombardments have been reported around Rafah as well as in Gaza City and Jabalia refugee camp in the north and Nuseirat camp in the centre.

More than seven months into the war, Israeli strikes and ground combat have claimed another 82 lives in Gaza over the past 24 hours, the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said.

Nearly 450,000 Palestinians have been newly displaced from Rafah in recent days, and around 100,000 from northern Gaza, said UN agencies which warn that “no place is safe” in the territory.

Palestinian mother Hadeel Radwan, 32, who fled northern Gaza for Rafah with her family, told AFP that she was terrified by the constant shelling while enduring shortages including of drinking water. 

Many people had fled her Tal al-Sultan district, but she said joining them would be hard because “I had a C-section and moving quickly, under threat, would be difficult to me”.

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