Fighting has ravaged Gaza since Oct 7, when Hamas militants carried out an unparalleled attack on Israel that resulted in about 1,140 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
Militants also seized about 250 hostages and dragged them back to Gaza, 132 of whom Israel says are still in the coastal territory, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.
More than 24,000 Palestinians, around 70 per cent of them women, young children and adolescents, have been killed in Gaza in Israeli bombardments and ground operations since Oct 7, according to the Hamas government’s health ministry.
“TAMP DOWN FLAMES”
AFPTV live footage showed trails of smoke and explosions ringing out as Israel’s air defences intercepted rockets near the Gaza border.
Khan Yunis has been the focus of Israeli military operations since the army said on Jan 6 that it had dismantled Hamas’s military structures in the north and was shifting its focus to the south.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant had told a news conference on Monday that intense operations would soon be winding down in south Gaza.
“In southern Gaza we will reach this achievement and it will end soon, and in both places, the moment will come when we will move to the next phase,” he said, without specifying a time frame.
The health ministry said on Tuesday that the war had claimed the lives of at least 24,285 people in the Palestinian territory.
The Israeli army also announced on early Tuesday the death of one more soldier in Gaza, bringing the total number killed since its ground invasion began to 189.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday reiterated calls for a stop to the fighting.
“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to ensure sufficient aid gets to where it is needed, to facilitate the release of the hostages, to tamp down the flames of wider war – because the longer the conflict in Gaza continues, the greater the risk of escalation and miscalculation,” he said.