Israeli forces storm Khan Younis in southern Gaza

AFP

Israeli forces intensified its attack on Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, in what they called the most intense day of combat in five weeks of ground operations against Hamas.

"We are in the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation," the commander of the Israeli military's Southern Command, General Yaron Finkelman, said in a statement.

He said Israeli forces were also fighting in Jabalia, a large urban refugee camp and Hamas hotbed in northern Gaza next to Gaza City, and in Shuja'iyya, east of the city.

The surge in combat comes after a truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed last week.

"Sixty days after the war began, our forces are now encircling the Khan Younis area," said Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, chief of Israel's General Staff, referring to the October 7 attack.

"We have secured many Hamas strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip, and now we are operating against its strongholds in the south," Halevi told a press conference.

Hamas' armed wing said it killed or wounded eight Israeli troops and destroyed 24 military vehicles on Tuesday. An Israeli military website listed two troop deaths for Tuesday and 83 since the ground operation began.

Gaza health officials said many civilians were killed in an Israeli strike on houses in Deir al-Balah, north of Khan Younis. Dr Eyad Al-Jabri, head of the Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital there, told Reuters at least 45 people were killed.

Hamas' media office said on Tuesday at least 16,248 people had been killed in Gaza by Israel's military since the conflict erupted on October 7. Thousands more are missing and feared buried under rubble.

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