Saturday 18 May 2024 - 09:34

Israel Continues Violent Gaza Offensive amid Calls for Aid Access

Story Code : 1135905
Israel Continues Violent Gaza Offensive amid Calls for Aid Access
Hamas announced on Friday that its fighters are engaged in fierce battles with Israeli troops in Jabalia's narrow alleyways, marking some of the most intense confrontations since the soldiers returned to the area last week.

Israeli forces have intensified their attacks on northern Gaza, displacing over 100,000 people, according to United Nations figures.

Residents report Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have penetrated deep into Jabalia, with bulldozers demolishing homes and shops.

Reporting from Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, Al Jazeera's Hani Mahmoud noted that the Palestinian Civil Defence recovered at least 93 bodies within 24 hours from Jabalia's streets and alleyways.

"They are saying there are still more bodies in areas that they are unable to reach," Mahmoud said.

Clashes between Palestinian resistance groups and the Israeli military are also occurring in other parts of the coastal territory.

Hamas's Qassam Brigades and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades reported on Friday that their fighters shelled an Israeli "command post" in southern Gaza City.

Abu Obaida, spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, stated that Hamas fighters had targeted 100 Israeli army vehicles across all "fighting fronts" over the past 10 days, inflicting casualties.

The UN and other observers have urged Israel to allow aid into Gaza through land crossings, noting that the floating pier is not a sufficient solution.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the UN agreed to help receive and dispatch aid from the floating pier "as long as ... the neutrality and independence of humanitarian operations" are respected.

However, Haq emphasized that land deliveries remain the most effective way to address the humanitarian crisis affecting 2.3 million people in Gaza.

"The floating dock is intended to supplement existing land crossings of aid into Gaza, including Rafah, Kerem Shalom, and Erez. It is not meant to replace any crossings," Haq said.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby echoed this sentiment, stating that the pier "is an additive, not an alternative, to ground crossings."

"It is not a replacement," Kirby said, adding that the US hopes to increase aid deliveries to Gaza within the next "72 hours or so."

Still, Kirby noted that the pier alone "will not be enough all on its own to get the food, water, and medicine that the Palestinians living in Gaza so desperately need." He stressed the necessity of opening land crossings as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said on Friday that it had retrieved the bodies of three captives from Gaza.

Military spokesperson Daniel Hagari identified the three as Shani Louk, Amit Buskila, and Yitzhak Gelernter. Hagari did not specify where the bodies were found.

The Israeli government had confirmed the death of German-Israeli Louk, a 23-year-old tattoo artist, in late October. However, the family of 57-year-old Gelernter was "in total darkness" about his fate until Friday, his daughter Yarden Pivko told Channel 12 News.

In response, the Qassam Brigades expressed skepticism about Israel's claim, adding that the only way for the remaining captives to return alive was through a truce.