Israel-Gaza War Israeli troops and Hamas fight in the heart of Khan Younis

60 days into their unprecedented war, the Israeli Army and Hamas held the first combats in the heart of Khan Younis

Israel-Gaza War Israeli troops and Hamas fight in the heart of Khan Younis

60 days into their unprecedented war, the Israeli Army and Hamas held the first combats in the heart of Khan Younis. The fiefdom and birthplace of the leader of the Islamist group, Yahia Sinwar, and the head of the armed wing, Mohamed Deif, is the main objective of the new phase of the ground operation in the south of the Gaza Strip where many displaced people from the North fled, for the second time, towards more southern and populated areas, leading the UN to express their fear of "a more infernal scenario."

In the Khan Yunis tunnel network, part of the 138 people still in captivity of Hamas and Islamic Jihad would be found. His uncertain situation motivated the tense meeting between his relatives, and for the first time some of the more than 110 already released, and the Israeli cabinet. Between Herzlia (place of the meeting) and Khan Yunis, the day staged Israel's dilemma about which goal is a priority: ending Hamas (continuing the offensive) or agreeing to the release of women and men, including the elderly and soldiers (truce and release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners).

"We are in the heart of Jabalia, in the heart of Shujaíya and now also in the heart of Khan Yunis," announced the military chief in the Southern Command, Yaron Finkelman, referring to the two combat zones in northern Gaza and the new one in the south. According to him, it was the "most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation in terms of terrorist deaths, armed clashes and the use of firepower from the ground and air."

The harsh fighting of recent days has caused the death of dozens of militiamen and a dozen soldiers. The Army, quoted by local media, estimates that "at least 6,000 Hamas terrorists have died in the war."

Before and during the advance of its tanks in the south, the Air Force carried out the most intense attacks on Khan Younis and the adjacent refugee camp, including the most powerful bombs against tunnels, since the operation launched in response to the attacks of the 7th -0. Israel again asked residents of six neighborhoods to leave through a humanitarian corridor given that "in the next few hours, the Army will begin to launch an intensive attack to destroy the terrorist organization Hamas."

A third of the population of Khan Younis is believed to have basically fled to a humanitarian zone in Rafah, near the Egyptian border. After the displacement of 80% of the 2.2 million inhabitants, the south is home to three times its usual population. The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Lynn Hastings, warned that the Israeli military extension forces "tens of thousands more people to flee to increasingly concentrated spaces, in desperate need of food, water, shelter and security." ".

"What we see today are shelters without space, lack of drinking water, no sanitation and insufficient food for a population that is mentally and physically exhausted: a perfect recipe for epidemics and a public health disaster," concluded another senior official from UN Secretary-General Martin Griffiths added: "People are being ordered to move again, forced to make one impossible decision after another. This blatant disregard for basic humanity must end." The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry says at least 15,900 Palestinians have died in the war, including hundreds since the resumption of the offensive last Friday.

Israeli military pressure has reduced the firing of projectiles although the jihadist group still has capacity as it demonstrated with bursts against the south and center. While the "Iron Dome" was operating in the skies over Tel Aviv, to the north of this city the meeting between the cabinet and freed hostages and families of kidnapped people began.

"They shaved off all of my father's body hair to humiliate him" or "they touch our girls," were some of the testimonies that the leaders heard at the meeting in which they begged them for an agreement for their release since "their lives are in danger".

Netanyahu blamed Hamas ("it is the cruelest enemy and they don't even care about its people in Gaza") for breaching the agreement by not releasing the women still in captivity last Friday. This refusal raises the concern of their families that the captors have sexually abused the girls, as Hamas members did in dozens of cases, including some with extreme violence during the October 7 attack in southern Israel. .

After 60 days of war, the Islamist group affirms that it can "endure in the face of aggression" since in the words of one of its leaders, Osama Hamdan, "it is not possible to defeat Hamas." In Israel, they estimate that they have a maximum of one and a half more months of offensive and then move on to a new phase in which they would make specific incursions into a strip that will need many dollars and years for its reconstruction.