Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Bodies trapped in Gaza City under Israeli attack as mediators call for truce

Bodies trapped in Gaza City under Israeli attack as mediators call for truce

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Destroyed buildings and rubble after the Israeli army withdrew from the Shejaia neighborhood, east of Gaza City, on July 10.OMAR AL-QATTAA/Getty Images

Residents of Gaza City were trapped in their homes and bodies lay uncollected in the streets following an intense fresh Israeli assault on Thursday, even as Washington pushed for a peace deal at talks in Egypt and Qatar.

Hamas militants say a heavy Israeli attack on Gaza City this week could derail efforts to finally end the war, just as negotiations have entered the fray.

Home to more than a quarter of Gaza’s residents before the war, Gaza City was destroyed in the first weeks of fighting last year, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have returned to their ruined homes. Now they have been ordered out of the Israeli army again.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said it had reports of people trapped and others killed in their homes in the Tel Al Hawa and Sabra districts of Gaza City, and rescuers could not reach them.

The civil emergency service said it estimated at least 30 people were killed in the Tel Al-Hawa and Rimal areas and could not recover bodies from the streets there.

Despite the army’s instructions to Gaza City residents on Wednesday that they could use two “safe routes” to head south, many residents refused to heed the order. Some posted a hashtag on social media: “We’re not leaving.”

“We will die, but we will not go south. We have tolerated hunger and bombs for nine months and we are ready to die as martyrs here,” said Mohammad Ali, 30, reached by text message.

Ali, whose family moved several times to the city, said they lacked food, water and medicine.

“The occupation is bombing Gaza City as if the war has resumed. We hope there will be a ceasefire soon, but if not, then it is God’s will.”

Just east of Gaza City, in the suburb of Shejaia, residents were walking back to a bleak moonscape of destroyed buildings after Israeli forces withdrew from a two-week offensive there.

The main cemetery of the territory had been bulldozed by the army. People carried supplies on the backs of bicycles over debris-strewn paths, past the remains of burned and blown-up Israeli armored vehicles.

“We returned to Shejaia after 15 days. You can see the destruction. They spared nothing, even the trees, there was a lot of greenery in this area. What is the fault of stones and trees? And what is my guilt as a civilian?” resident Hatem Tayeh told Reuters in the ruins.

“There are dead bodies of civilians. What is the civilian’s fault? Who are you fighting?”

Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip last year after Hamas-led militants stormed southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli statistics.

Since then, Israel’s attack has killed more than 38,000 people, according to Gaza medical authorities.

On the southern edge of the enclave of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, where tanks have been operating in most of the city since May, residents said the army continued to blow up houses in the western and central areas amid fighting. with Hamas, Islamic. Jihad and other smaller factions.

Palestinian health officials said four people, including a child, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Tel Al-Sultan, west of Rafah.

The Israeli military said earlier Thursday that about five rockets fired from the Rafah area were successfully intercepted.

Several drones from Lebanon also fell inside Israel on Thursday, the Israeli military said, while the head of the local municipality told Israel’s Channel 12 that one person was seriously injured.

The talks in Qatar and Egypt follow major concessions last week from Hamas, which agreed it could begin a truce and release some hostages without Israel first agreeing to end the war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces opposition within his right-wing cabinet to any deal that would halt the war until Hamas is defeated, says a deal must allow Israel to resume fighting until it achieves all its goals.

Two Hamas officials contacted by Reuters did not immediately comment on the content of the ongoing talks, led by Egypt, Qatar and the United States.

“There will be a meeting today between Hamas and the mediators to check what answers they have received from the occupation,” a Palestinian official close to the mediation said, without elaborating.

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