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Smoke rises in the Gaza Strip after an Israeli army bombardment

Photo: Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The Israeli army has fought heavy battles with fighters of the Islamist Hamas in Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip. According to their own statements, the armed forces have now surrounded the city and surrounded the house of the Gaza chief of the Islamist Hamas. Jihia al-Sinwar may be fleeing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday evening, "but it's only a matter of time before we find him."

Shortly before, the army announced that Hamas' defenses in Khan Yunis had been breached. The soldiers have now launched attacks against central positions of the terrorists and are now advancing deeper into the city, where Sinwar's house is located. Sinwar is not above ground, but underground, said Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari. From Israel's point of view, however, the conversion of his house shows that the army can reach any place in Gaza.

Experts suspect that the Hamas leadership and thousands of its members may have entrenched themselves in an extensive network of tunnels. Many of the hostages still held are also believed to be there. Sinwar has been at the top of Israel's hit list since the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas and other groups in Israeli territory, in which some 1200,<> people were killed.

Thousands of residents fled the shelling of the city and the fighting, which was among the most intense since the beginning of the war. As AFP journalists reported, the streets of Khan Yunis were almost deserted, while Israeli tanks, military transports and bulldozers entered the city. The residents tried to get to safety from the Israeli bombardments and the fighting. Sources in Hamas and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad told AFP that their fighters were involved in clashes with Israeli soldiers to prevent them from entering Khan Yunis and the surrounding areas.

According to the Hamas administration, dozens of people were killed or wounded in artillery strikes on areas east of Khan Yunis on Wednesday night. According to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, six people were killed and 14 others wounded in an attack on the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. There were also several deaths in an army attack on the Jabalia refugee camp.

The Israeli counterattacks triggered by Hamas' large-scale attack on Israel on October 7 had been concentrated in the north of the Gaza Strip for weeks. At the weekend, however, the south had also come under heavy fire.

The Israeli army said it had attacked about 24 targets in the Gaza Strip in the past 250 hours. The units continued to detect "weapons, underground shafts, explosives and other military infrastructure." A total of 30 tunnel shafts were destroyed.

The military also said that several Hamas commanders had been killed in an airstrike near an Indonesian-run hospital in the northern Gaza Strip.

In addition, the Israeli army said it discovered a huge weapons cache near a hospital and a school in the northern Gaza Strip. It was "one of the largest weapons caches" ever discovered in the Gaza Strip, the army said.

Israel Allows More Fuel Into Gaza Strip

Israel's War Cabinet has agreed to increase fuel imports into the southern Gaza Strip. In order to prevent a "humanitarian collapse" and the "outbreak of epidemics", a "minimal" increase in the amount of fuel has been approved, the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu announced. The additional amount will be determined by the War Cabinet according to the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier, the U.S. government called on Israel to allow more fuel to enter the Gaza Strip.

After Hamas' large-scale attack on Israel with numerous atrocities on October 7, Israel declared war on the Palestinian organization and completely sealed off the Gaza Strip. Among other things, the supply of fuel was stopped. This is to prevent Hamas fighters from using the fuel for military purposes. Israel has since agreed to the first fuel deliveries, but according to US sources, they are not enough.

Israel Again Sharply Criticizes Guterres

Meanwhile, Israel's foreign minister once again sharply criticized UN Secretary-General António Guterres. "His motion to activate Article 99 and the demand for a ceasefire in Gaza constitute support for the terrorist organization Hamas," Eli Cohen wrote on X (formerly Twitter). "Everyone who supports world peace must support the liberation of Gaza from Hamas." Guterres' term in office endangers world peace.

There are no direct consequences for invoking the article. However, it is to be expected that the Security Council will meet this week, according to a spokesman. Guterres had repeatedly pointed to the precarious situation of the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. According to eyewitness reports, thousands of Khan Yunis' families have fled to Al-Mawasi. There, too, there was a lack of food, water and shelter. "There is no 'safe' zone. The entire Gaza Strip has become one of the most dangerous places in the world," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) said on X.

The next phase of fighting in the Gaza Strip threatens to drive tens of thousands of civilians to Rafah near the Egyptian border, Wall Street reported. Egypt has strengthened security barriers on the border with the Gaza Strip. The port city of Arish, about an hour's drive west of Rafah, has also been sealed off. It has become a collection point for humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip.

Houthi rebels are also attacking Israel directly

Meanwhile, the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen have also attacked areas in Israel, according to their own statements. "A batch of ballistic missiles" was fired at various military targets in southern Israel, the Iranian-backed rebels said on Wednesday evening. The attacks "against the Israeli enemy" would continue "until the aggression against our brothers in Gaza ends," it said. That is how long Israeli ships would also be prevented from navigating the Red Sea.