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Fighting Flares Anew in Gaza as Hamas Reconstitutes

Fighting Flares Anew in Gaza as Hamas Reconstitutes


As the Israeli army stepped up stress on what it calls Hamas’s final stronghold in Gaza, combating elsewhere within the Palestinian enclave on Sunday led to warnings that the militants may stay a pressure for a very long time to come back.

Close-quarters floor fight between Hamas fighters and Israeli troops raged in elements of northern Gaza over the weekend, either side mentioned on Sunday, even because the world’s consideration was largely targeted on the southern metropolis of Rafah, the place Israel escalated army operations final week.

It has change into a well-recognized state of affairs within the Gaza Strip over the course of the seven-month conflict: After pitched battles, Israel declares an space away from Hamas, solely to return after the militants reconstitute their forces.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken mentioned he was involved that Israel’s failure to put down a template for the governance of Gaza meant that its victories may not be “sustainable” and could be adopted by “chaos, by anarchy and in the end by Hamas once more.”

Mr. Blinken’s warning got here because the Israeli army mentioned its troopers had “eradicated a quantity” of fighters within the Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitoun. In close by Jabaliya, the place civilians had been ordered to evacuate on Saturday, troops went in in a single day after fighter jets struck greater than two dozen targets, the army mentioned. The operation, it mentioned, was “primarily based on intelligence data concerning makes an attempt by Hamas to reassemble.”

Hamas mentioned on Sunday that its fighters had been engaged in “fierce clashes” with Israeli troopers close to Jabaliya and that the fighters had fired heavy-caliber mortar shells at Israeli forces in Zeitoun.

Neither declare may very well be independently verified.

Palestine TV, a community affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, a rival to Hamas primarily based within the Israeli-occupied West Bank, broadcast footage that it mentioned confirmed civilians, lots of them ladies and youngsters, fleeing northern Gaza. Some had been on foot, whereas others had been on bicycles, in automobiles or piled onto carts drawn by donkeys.

“I’m deeply distressed by the fast-deteriorating circumstances in Gaza,” the United Nations’ human rights chief, Volker Türk, mentioned in an announcement concerning the combating within the north.

In Rafah, the southernmost metropolis the place greater than one million Palestinians have fled for security because the conflict started in October, Gazans had been as soon as once more on the transfer, fearful that Israel was about to maneuver into town in full pressure.

Israel has been underneath intense worldwide stress — together with from the United States, its closest ally — to not launch a full-scale invasion of Rafah. The Israelis say they’re decided to eradicate the militants who led the Oct. 7 assaults on Israel.

But Hamas high leaders within the Gaza Strip, together with Yahya Sinwar, are usually not hiding in Rafah, in keeping with American officers, intelligence that might undercut the Israeli rationale for main army operations within the metropolis.

U.S. officers say Israeli intelligence companies agree with the American evaluation. The two international locations’ spy companies imagine that Mr. Sinwar almost definitely by no means left the tunnel community underneath Khan Younis, a significant metropolis to the north, in keeping with American officers. The American officers spoke on situation of anonymity to debate delicate intelligence assessments.

Israel nonetheless has been growing the stress on Rafah.

The principal United Nations company aiding Palestinians in Gaza mentioned early Sunday that about 300,000 individuals had fled from Rafah over the previous week. Another group, the World Food Program, warned {that a} full-scale invasion of town could be “catastrophic.”

Gaza’s largest telecommunications firm mentioned on Sunday that web service was down in elements of southern Gaza due to Israeli army operations. And Doctors Without Borders mentioned it had began to refer the final 22 sufferers at one hospital, the Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, to different services as a result of it may “now not assure their security.”

On Sunday, residents in Israel had been observing Memorial Day, a nationwide day of mourning that has taken on added poignancy this 12 months. At 8 p.m., a minute-long siren sounded throughout the nation, bringing pedestrians to a standstill within the streets and site visitors to a halt.

Even in a standard 12 months, the commemoration for troopers and victims of terrorist assaults is sacrosanct in Israel, a small nation the place many know somebody killed or wounded because of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian battle.

Roughly 1,200 individuals had been killed and 250 taken hostage on Oct. 7, the Israeli authorities say. Since Israel launched its invasion of Gaza, not less than 272 troopers have been killed, the army says. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed within the conflict, and most Gazans have been pressured to flee their houses, Gaza officers say.

Liam Stack reported from Tel Aviv, Aaron Boxerman from Jerusalem, and Eric Nagourney from New York. Reporting was contributed by Julian E. Barnes, Adam Entous and Mike Ives.

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