Tens of thousands of civilians flee amid heavy fighting in Gaza

World

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are fleeing Gaza neighbourhoods where Israeli ground forces have been battling Hamas militants.

Fighting between Israel and Hamas has intensified in the north and in the capital of Gaza City – forcing thousands to flee to the south.

Israeli strikes have pounded Gaza City overnight – and Israeli troops were around 1.8 miles from Shifa Hospital in the heart of the city centre, the hospital’s director said.

Many are fleeing along roads such as the Salah al Din, some carrying white flags to show they are civilians.

The Salah al Din road runs right from the north to the south.

Map showing Israeli operations in Gaza

The Israel Defence Forces said they had secured a key Hamas stronghold after a 10-hour battle.

Troops belonging to the Nahal Brigade, one of the IDF’s main infantry units, secured what it called a stronghold named “Outpost 17” in west Jabaliya in northern Gaza.

The IDF said it engaged in fighting “above ground and in an underground route”, suggesting Hamas may have used some of its vast tunnel network during the battle.

Israel-Gaza latest: Key Hamas stronghold secured after 10-hour battle, IDF claims

Aid conference in Paris

It comes as officials from Western and Arab nations, the UN and non-governmental organisations met for an international conference in Paris with the aim of providing urgent aid to civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The conference gathered about 80 countries and organisations to find ways to help wounded civilians escape the siege.

More than 1.5 million people – or about 70% of Gaza’s population – have fled their homes, and an estimated $1.2bn is needed to respond to the crisis in Palestinian areas.

Humanitarian organisations have called for more aid to flow into Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

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Mark Stone reports from Israel-Egypt border

Sky’s Mark Stone is on the Israeli-Egypt border at Nitzana, and has given an update on the status of the Rafah crossing into Gaza and the flow of aid.

He said “the border is open and trucks have been passing through… [but at] a trickle”.

Delays are occurring because Israel is insisting on checking every truck that enters Gaza – from its own soil, Stone explained.

“About 100 trucks a day at the moment are being allowed to pass from Egypt into Israel where they are security screened,” he said.

Once cleared, the trucks travel back into Egypt and are allowed to pass into Gaza at the Rafah crossing.

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Video diary: ‘No future in Gaza’

Calls for a ceasefire

A UN human rights chief has called for a ceasefire and said both sides had committed war crimes in the month of fighting over the enclave.

Speaking at the Paris conference, Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said: “We cannot wait a minute more for a humanitarian ceasefire or lifting of [the] siege, which is collective punishment.

“Without ceasefire, lifting of siege and indiscriminate bombarding and warfare, the haemorrhage of human lives will continue.”

Israel has rejected any calls for a ceasefire until Hamas releases the roughly 240 hostages that it took during the attack on 7 October.

Hamas killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli tallies – in the single worst day of bloodshed in the country’s 75-year history.

Palestinian officials said 10,569 Gaza residents had been killed as of Wednesday, about 40% of them children.

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