Israeli forces are fighting militants in the northern Gaza Strip, which has been cut off from services for weeks

DEIR BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian militants in a dense urban refugee camp Tuesday, as part of an expansion of its operations in the northern Gaza Strip, where residents have been without electricity, water or humanitarian aid for weeks.

The front line of The war is now in its seventh week I moved to Jabalia camp, a dense area of ​​concrete buildings near Gaza City that includes houses Refugees from the 1948 war Surrounding the creation of Israel and their descendants. Israel has been bombing the area for weeks, and the army said that Hamas fighters had regrouped there and in other eastern areas after being expelled from most parts of Gaza City.

Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli army spokesman, said late Monday that Israeli forces had taken full control of Jabalia and had begun dismantling the Hamas brigade there. Details of the fighting could not be independently confirmed.

Footage released by the military in recent days shows soldiers and tanks operating in dense urban neighborhoods where almost every building appears to have been damaged or destroyed.

The war you sparked Hamas surprise attack on October 7 Entering Israeli territory has led to heavy losses among Palestinian civilians, especially those who remained in the north after Israel repeatedly called on people to flee the south. Israeli forces isolated the north in their ground invasion late last month, although tens of thousands have since fled south through corridors declared by the army.

It is unclear how many people remain in the north, but the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees estimates that about 160,000 people remain in their shelters there, although it is no longer able to provide services. About 1.7 million Palestinians, about three-quarters of Gaza’s population, have fled their homes.

Hundreds of thousands of people crowded into UN-run schools and other facilities across southern Gaza that now serve as shelters. With its surplus, people were forced to sleep on the streets outside, with little shelter from the winter rains that hit the region in recent days.

Throughout Gaza, there are shortages of food, water and fuel to run generators needed to run basic infrastructure. The Gaza Strip has witnessed a power outage since Israel cut off fuel imports at the beginning of the war.

Israel continues to strike what it says are military targets across Gaza, including the southern evacuation zone, often killing women and children, officials said. It may soon expand its operations in the south.

Fighting around hospitals

Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the north have taken refuge in hospitals, but they have steadily emptied as the fighting reached their doors, and most are no longer functioning.

Marwan Abdullah, a medical worker at the Indonesian Hospital near Jabalia, said heavy fighting outside its gates on Tuesday prevented ambulances from transporting the wounded for treatment. He added: “The situation is getting worse hour by hour.”

Palestinian officials said an Israeli shell hit the hospital early Monday, killing 12 people. Israel denied bombing the hospital, but said its forces responded by firing at the gunmen who targeted it from inside the 3.5-acre (1.4 hectare) complex.

Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said that about 200 wounded people and their companions were evacuated from the hospital to southern Gaza on Monday in a rescue effort coordinated by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ashraf told Al Jazeera TV that between 400 and 500 wounded were still in the Indonesian hospital. About 2,000 displaced Palestinians also live there.

A similar confrontation occurred in recent days at Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital, which has been at the center of warring narratives over Hamas’ alleged use of civilian infrastructure. Israel has Some evidence has been provided in recent days There were militants in the hospital, but it has not yet proven its claims that Hamas had a major command center beneath the facility.

Hamas and hospital workers denied the Israeli allegations. Health workers say dozens of critically ill and wounded patients, as well as medics, remained stranded at Al-Shifa Hospital afterward. 31 premature babies They were successfully evacuated to hospitals in Egypt and southern Gaza. Israeli forces entered the hospital last week after days of violent battles outside its gates.

Care for complex medical cases — including most cancer patients and dialysis patients — is no longer available in Gaza, and the remaining hospitals are likely to be overwhelmed with about 5,500 births expected next month, Michael Ryan, a senior World Health Organization official, said Monday. .

He said: “The situation of hospitals – the situation of the primary health care system – in Gaza is catastrophic and it is the worst you can imagine (in) the north.”

High toll

More than 12,700 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank. Officials there say another 4,000 are missing. Their statistics do not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says it has killed thousands of activists.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health bases its statistics on the information it has collected Its counterpart in the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by HamasWhich was unable to fully update casualty figures for more than 10 days due to the collapse of services and communications in the north.

About 1,200 people were killed on the Israeli side, most of them civilians, during the October 7 attack, in which Hamas participated. About 240 prisoners were withdrawn Return to Gaza. The army says that 68 Israeli soldiers were killed in ground operations in Gaza.

Talks about releasing the hostages

Israel, the United States and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas, have been negotiating for weeks over the release of the hostages, which would be accompanied by a temporary ceasefire and the entry of more humanitarian aid.

Hamas released four hostages, Israel rescued one, and the bodies of two were found near Shifa.

Izzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas official, said on Tuesday that an agreement could be reached “in the coming hours,” in which Hamas would release prisoners and Israel would release Palestinian prisoners. Hamas leader in exile Ismail Haniyeh also said they were close to reaching an agreement, but similar predictions in recent weeks have proven premature.

The three-member Israeli war cabinet met Representatives of the hostages’ families Monday evening. A relative of one of the hostages said officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the families that the government considered the release of the hostages and the defeat of Hamas “equally important.”

Udi Goren, whose cousin Tal Shimi is being held in Gaza, said it was “incredibly disappointing” for the families, with Israel saying it could take months to dismantle the militant group.

“We will not stop fighting until we bring the hostages home, destroy Hamas, and ensure there is no longer a threat from Gaza,” Netanyahu said on social media after the meeting.


Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Melanie Lidman in Jerusalem contributed.


Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

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