Israel resumes strikes in Gaza Strip as truce with Hamas expires

1 December 2023, 07:54

Israel Palestinians
Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

The halt in fighting began a week ago, on November 24.

Israel’s military has resumed combat operations in the Gaza Strip minutes after a temporary truce with Hamas expired on Friday, blaming the militant group for breaking the ceasefire.

The truce expired at 7am (0500 GMT) on Friday. The halt in fighting began a week ago, on November 24. It initially lasted for four days, and then was extended for several days with the help of Qatar and fellow mediator Egypt.

The Israeli military said on Friday that its fighter jets have begun striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

The announcement came 30 minutes after the ceasefire expired.

Palestinian residents said Israel has dropped leaflets over parts of southern Gaza, urging people to leave homes east of the town of Khan Younis. The leaflets also warned that Khan Younis was now a “dangerous battle zone”.

The leaflets signalled that Israel is preparing to widen its offensive, which has so far focused largely on the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled northern Gaza earlier in the war, with many taking shelter in Khan Younis and other cities in the south.

During the week-long truce, Hamas and other militants in Gaza released more than 100 hostages, most of them Israelis, in return for 240 Palestinians freed from prisons in Israel.

Virtually all of those freed were women and children, but the fact that few such hostages remained in Gaza complicated reaching a deal for a further extension.

Hamas, a militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years, had also been expected to set a higher price for the remaining hostages, especially Israeli soldiers. About 140 hostages remain in Gaza, with more than 100 having been freed as part of the truce.

Mediators Qatar and Egypt had sought to prolong the truce by another two days.

The deal ended after a week and multiple extensions, despite international pressure for the truce to be upheld as long as possible.

Israel Palestinians
A woman is overwhelmed by emotion after being released from prison by Israel, in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday (Nasser Nasser/ AP)

Weeks of Israeli bombardment and a ground campaign have left more than three-quarters of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million uprooted, leading to a humanitarian crisis.

More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed — roughly two-thirds of them women and minors — according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Some 1,200 Israelis have been killed, mostly during Hamas’ deadly October 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war.

By Press Association

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