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Dozens Die in Israel Gaza Strikes on Day 98 of War

Telecommunication services were cut across besieged Gaza Friday, as Israeli strikes killed dozens in southern cities where hundreds of thousands are struggling to survive hunger and cold on day 98 of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli forces raged after a night of heavy Israeli shelling, and came amid growing fears of the conflict widening after US and British forces struck pro-Hamas Huthi rebels in Yemen after attacks on Red Sea shipping.

In Gaza, an AFP journalist reported strikes and shelling hitting areas between the territory’s southern cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah, which is crowded with people who have fled from the north.

Overnight Thursday-Friday, the bombardment killed at least 59 people and wounded dozens more across the besieged territory, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said.

The Israeli military said it had killed seven “terrorists” in a strike in Khan Yunis and a further 20 in the Maghazi area to the north.

AFP footage showed black smoke billowing over Rafah and Khan Yunis.

“Does anyone care about us? Why is everyone silent?” asked one mourner at a hospital where a group of Palestinians had gathered beside white body bags of the latest casualties.

Elsewhere in Rafah, resident Fayad Abu Rjeila surveyed the wreckage of a building after an Israeli strike he said had killed civilians in their homes.

“They had nothing to do with anything. People who just wanted to live,” he told AFP.

“Why did they target them?”

Israel’s military said its ground forces and air strikes had destroyed more than 700 rocket launchers in Gaza since the war began on October 7.

– ‘Gaza blacked out’ –
On Friday, all internet and telecommunications services in Gaza were cut as a result of the Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian territory, the main operator Paltel said.

“Gaza is blacked out again,” it said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 23,708 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest health ministry figures.

Vowing to eliminate Hamas, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment, alongside a ground invasion, since Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7 and also seized around 250 hostages.

The unprecedented attack by the Islamist group resulted in the death of about 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Friday a deal had been negotiated with Qatar to get medicines through to hostages still being held in Gaza.

On Tuesday, Israeli campaign group Hostages and Missing Families Forum released a report saying the captives were in poor health, some with complex illnesses, others with injuries.

The medicines deal “will allow the entry of medicines for the hostages held by the Hamas terrorist organisation in Gaza”, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The charity Oxfam International said on Thursday that the daily death toll in Gaza was higher than in any other major conflict this century, with an average of 250 people killed daily.

Oxfam’s Sally Abi Khalil said it is “unimaginable” that the international community stands by “while continuously blocking calls for a ceasefire”.

In northern Gaza, the World Health Organization said it had reached Gaza’s largest hospital on Thursday, delivering desperately needed fuel and medical supplies.

“The team reported that Al-Shifa, previously Gaza’s premier hospital, has (partially) re-established services,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted on X.

Andrea De Domenico, head of the UN aid agency OCHA’s office in the occupied Palestinian territories, told AFP on Friday Israel was constantly blocking humanitarian aid convoys into northern Gaza.

“But in particular, they have been very systematic to not allowing us to support hospitals, which is something that is reaching a point of a level of inhumanity that for me is beyond comprehension,” he said.

Amid fears of Israel’s war against Hamas spreading, American and British forces launched early morning raids against Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthis, after the rebels targeted shipping in the Red Sea they said was linked to Israel.

Violence involving Tehran-aligned groups in Yemen, as well as in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, has surged since the Israel-Hamas war erupted.

– ‘Legitimate targets’ –
Following Friday’s pre-dawn strikes, the Huthi Supreme Political Council threatened to retaliate against US and British interests, saying they were now “legitimate targets”.

In Rafah, Fuad al-Ghalaini, displaced from Gaza City, told AFP the attacks on Yemen were not unexpected.

“No one is standing with us but Yemen, and when Yemen decided to take action to stand with the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza, they fought it and allied against it,” he said.

In the West Bank, meanwhile, Palestinians in the city of Ramallah staged a pro-Hamas demonstration after Friday prayers, an AFP correspondent reported.

“We are protesting to condemn the massacres and bloodshed amid the silence of the world,” said Asma Hreash, whose father and brother have been arrested by Israeli forces.

“We protest also in support of the resistance that is avenging the blood of Palestinians.”

Since the war in Gaza broke out, violence in the occupied West Bank has also surged, with at least 334 people killed by Israeli troops or settlers, according to the health ministry in Ramallah.

AFP

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