Israel-Gaza: 241 killed in 24 hour as Israel says conflict could last ‘months’

The Israeli ground assault is likely to be stepped up in the coming days

Gazan authorities have said 241 people have been killed in 24 hours – and 382 more people injured – amid expectations Israel’s ground offensive is set to ramp up further in the territory.

Israel said the conflict could continue “for many months” as reports claimed large numbers of residential homes in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis have been destroyed in overnight attacks.

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Refugees living in camps in central Gaza warned they believed ground troops were “getting closer”.

Smoke billows over the northern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment from southern Israel on Wednesday.Smoke billows over the northern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment from southern Israel on Wednesday.
Smoke billows over the northern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment from southern Israel on Wednesday.

“The bombing was very intense,” Radwan Abu Sheitta, a Palestinian teacher said from his home in Bureij. He added of the Israeli troops: “It seems they are approaching.”

Residents described a night of shelling and air strikes shaking the Nuseirat, Maghazi and Bureij camps.

Israel says it hit more than 100 sites on Tuesday, while in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian medical sources say six Palestinians were killed in an overnight Israeli drone strike in the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem.

The camps are built-up towns housing Palestinians driven from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war and their descendants – and now also crowded with people who have fled from the north.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Israeli military issued an order for residents to evacuate a belt of territory the width of central Gaza, including Bureij, urging them to move to the nearby town of Deir al-Balah.

“Whoever talks about stopping, there is no such thing,” Mr Netanyahu told Israeli troops on a visit to Gaza on Monday. “We are not stopping. The war will continue until the end, until we finish it, no less.”

Israel's army chief Herzi Halevi said the conflict with Hamas would continue for "many more months". "There are no magic solutions," he said, adding the Israeli military was “close to completing” the dismantling of Hamas battalions.

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However, he said in the dense, urban environment “it cannot be said that we killed them all”.

“This war’s objectives are essential and not simple to achieve,” Mr Halevi said, referencing fighting in Hamas’s network of underground war tunnels.

More than 20,900 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, have been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. The organisation does not differentiate between civilians and combatants among the dead.

Human rights organisations renewed their plea for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“We are gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces,” the UN human rights office said, adding Israel had ordered some residents to move to central Gaza.

Thomas White, director of UNWRA affairs in Gaza, said Rafah, the city on the border crossing with Egypt where many refugees from elsewhere in the territory have fled, was “bursting at the seams”.

"People forced to move once again, more people in less space,” he said. “Rafah in the south is now bursting at the seams. [There’s] no respite – time for a humanitarian ceasefire.”

According to the UN, 24 Israeli soldiers were reported killed in the Palestinian territory between December 22 and 26. A total of 164 Israeli soldiers have now been killed and 874 injured since the start of the conflict.



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