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'Nearly 200 killed' in Gaza since Israel-Hamas war restarted, as IDF pounds south of strip despite fears for civilians
2 December 2023, 09:14 | Updated: 2 December 2023, 11:47
Some 193 people have been killed in Gaza, and 650 wounded, since the Israel-Hamas war restarted on Friday morning, local Hamas-affiliated authorities have said.
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Israel launched its armed forces back into the conflict at the end of the seven-day truce, focusing strikes on the southern Gaza strip this time.
The Israeli military said it had struck 400 Hamas targets with air strikes, tank fire and its navy since Friday morning.
Previous efforts had largely concentrated on the north of the territory, where Hamas has traditionally been strongest. Hundreds of thousands of people had been told by Israel to move to southern Gaza, away from the worst of the fighting.
But on Friday morning, residents of Khan Younis, a large city in the south, were told to leave the city to shelter areas because it would soon become a combat zone.
Over 15,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, which was sparked when Hamas launched attacks into southern Israel, killing 1,200 and taking more than 240 people hostage.
Some 105 hostages were returned during the seven-day truce, in exchange for over 200 Palestinian prisoners let out of Israeli prisons.
The US, Israel's biggest ally and backer, had earlier urged the IDF to protect civilians better during the next stage of the conflict.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: ""This is going to be very important going forward. It's something we're going to be looking at very closely."
A man who fled from northern Gaza to Khan Younis a month ago with his wife and three children said: "There is no place to go.
Emad Hajar added:"They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south."
Israel created a map that divided the strip into numbered sections, and told people to work out which section they live in, in case of an evacuation order.
Responding, the UN said: "The publication does not specify where people should evacuate to.
"It is unclear how those residing in Gaza would access the map without electricity and amid recurrent telecommunications cuts."
It comes after an Israeli spokesperson blamed the end of the truce on Hamas, who “decided to terminate the pause” by not releasing all the female hostages the terrorist group had kidnapped on October 7.
Eylon Levy said: “Having chosen to hold onto our women, Hamas will now take the mother of all thumpings.”
It follows the end of a truce deal with Gaza – which had allowed for the release of Palestinian prisoners, hostages and aid.
Mr Levy claimed his government had already approved a list of Palestinian prisoners who could have been freed in return for Hamas hostages.
He said the militant group failed to meet its "obligations" and therefore missed out on a chance to extend the week-old pause in fighting by another two days.
Hamas threw the blame back, saying Israel had “persistently” rejected offers of hostage releases.
Within minutes of the truce expiring, Israeli air strikes pounded the Gaza Strip.
Reports also suggested tanks were being repositioned within the area.
The Israel Defence Force confirmed “warplanes” would start focusing again on Gaza.
It also claimed Hamas first broke the truce, firing rockets before it was due to end at 7am local time (5am GMT).
Hamas violated the operational pause, and in addition, fired toward Israeli territory.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 1, 2023
The IDF has resumed combat against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/gVRpctD79R
With Israel continuing its brutal offensive on its Palestinian neighbour, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was prompted to show “deep regret”.
“I still hope that it will be possible to renew the pause that was established," he added.
Despite the ceasefire coming to an end, Qatar confirmed it was still negotiating an extension to the ceasefire.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday they were continuing talks “with the aim of returning to a pause”.
On the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Hamas had not respected “its obligation to release today all the abducted women and launched rockets toward the citizens of Israel”
He insisted the “government of Israel is obliged to accomplish the targets of the fighting”, including the release of hostages and “to liquidate Hamas”.
Mr Levy said Hamas was still holding 137 hostages, 10 of which were over the age of 75.