Israel's Gaza assault enters 200th day with no sign of letting up

Gaza - Israel's war on Gaza entered its 200th day on Tuesday with fears mounting of an Israeli invasion in the overcrowded southern city of Rafah, where many Palestinians have sought refuge in desperate conditions.

A smoke plume billows following Israeli bombardment north of Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024.
A smoke plume billows following Israeli bombardment north of Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024.  © AFP

The Israeli army carried out intense shelling overnight of the Gaza neighborhoods of Al-Tuffah, Shujaiya, and Zeitun, AFP correspondents and witnesses said.

Shelling and loud explosions were heard in southwest Gaza and Khan Younis in the south, while air strikes struck near the Bureij refugee camp and artillery fire hit the Nuseirat refugee camp.

The military said it struck several Hamas positions in south Gaza at night, with its warplanes hitting about 25 targets including military observation and launch posts.

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Israel has killed at least 34,183 Palestinians in Gaza since the Hamas military wing's attacks on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,170 people – events which occurred amid a decades-long oppressive Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The latest Gaza health ministry toll issued on Tuesday included least 32 Palestinian deaths in the past 24 hours.

For Palestinians in Gaza, Monday was a day of fresh horror, with the territory's Civil Defence agency saying about 200 bodies were uncovered in the past three days of people killed and buried by Israeli forces at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

Also on Monday, Israel's military intelligence chief, Major General Aharon Haliva, resigned after taking responsibility for failures leading to the October 7 attack.

Israel plans to press on with Rafah invasion

Boys walk with sacks of collected wood and plastic past the rubble of a collapsed building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024.
Boys walk with sacks of collected wood and plastic past the rubble of a collapsed building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024.  © MOHAMMED ABED / AFP

Global opposition has mounted over the civilian toll of Israel's Gaza offensive which has turned vast areas into rubble and sparked fears of famine.

The United Nations says "multiple obstacles" continue to impede delivery of urgently needed aid for Gazans desperate for food, water, shelter, and medicine.

But Netanyahu has vowed to press on with a planned invasion of Rafah, the town on the border with Egypt where most of Gaza's 2.4 million population is now sheltering.

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Citing Egyptian officials briefed on the Israeli plans, the Wall Street Journal said Israel was planning to move civilians from Rafah to nearby Khan Younis.

The operation would last two to three weeks and be done in coordination with the United States, Egypt, and other Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates, the Journal reported.

Israel would then send troops into Rafah gradually, targeting areas where it claims Hamas' leaders are hiding, in a military operation that would last six weeks, it added.

US government poised to send more military aid to Israel

Boys ride a donkey-drawn cart moving past destroyed buildings in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 22, 2024.
Boys ride a donkey-drawn cart moving past destroyed buildings in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 22, 2024.  © AFP

Foreign ministers of the G7 group of developed economies have said they oppose a "full-scale military operation in Rafah" because of the "catastrophic consequences" for civilians.

The US Senate is set to vote Tuesday on an aid package for its allies, including Israel, that is expected to land on President Joe Biden's desk for his approval by the end of the week.

It earmarks $13 billion for Israel's military and more than $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in Gaza. The funds come on top of billions the US gives Israel per year and over 100 Biden administration weapons shipments since October.

The ongoing support for Israel comes even as the International Court of Justice has ruled there is a "plausible" case Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have also faced a federal lawsuit accusing them of failing to prevent genocide by providing ongoing military and diplomatic support for Israel.

International experts have warned that countries arming Israel risk violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Cover photo: AFP

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