GAZA: Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Saturday (Jan 20) while its planes dropped leaflets on the southern area of Rafah urging Palestinians seeking refuge there to help locate hostages held by Hamas, residents said.
Palestinian fighters battled tanks trying to push back into the eastern suburbs of the Jabalia area in northern Gaza, where Israel had started pulling out troops and shifting to smaller-scale operations, residents and militants said.
The Israeli military said aircraft struck militant squads trying to plant explosives near troops and fire missiles at tanks in northern Gaza and said it was striking targets throughout Gaza.
In the southern area of Khan Younis, where Israel says it has expanded its operations against Hamas, witnesses said tanks shelled areas around Nasser Hospital overnight, describing the bombardment as the most intense in many days.
Nasser is now Gaza’s largest functioning hospital. Israel says Hamas fighters operate from in and around hospitals, including Nasser, which Hamas and medical staff deny though Israel has presented some footage and photos backing its claims.
The Israeli military said that in Khan Younis, it raided a military compound, neutralised ready-to-use rocket launchers and found explosives stashed underground while an aircraft struck two gunmen there.
The Gaza health ministry said Israeli strikes have killed 165 people and wounded 280 others in the past 24 hours, one of the biggest death tolls in a single day in 2024.
It did not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants in its daily toll. But most of the 24,927 Palestinians killed since the Oct 7 war began are civilians, health officials say.