IDF launches renewed operation in central Gaza Strip

Israeli forces launched a fresh deployment in the central Gaza Strip in the early hours of Thursday, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said.

The announcement referred to “a precise, intelligence-based operation to eliminate terrorist operatives and strike terrorist infrastructure in central Gaza.”

Israeli combat jets had struck targets above and below the ground before the IDF ground forces moved in, it added.

The military said that its troops had “identified an armed terrorist who exited a terror tunnel shaft adjacent to IDF troops and entered a military structure.” A combat jet targeted him as he approached the IDF troops.

Several rocket launcher ramps had been found, and the Israeli navy had fired on several targets in the area, it said.

Emergency workers in the area reported that at least five Palestinians had died in a residential block in the Nuseirat Camp for refugees, which lies south-west of Gaza City.

In Gaza’s south, six people were killed in Rafah in a suspected airstrike by Israeli forces on the city on the Egyptian border, Palestinian paramedics in the area reported.

An IDF spokesman declined to comment on the specific incident, but said that in response to the “barbaric attacks” by Palestinian militant organization Hamas, “the IDF is operating to dismantle Hamas military and administrative capabilities.”

He added: “In stark contrast to Hamas’ intentional attacks on Israeli men, women and children, the IDF follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.”

A key Hamas financier was also killed in an airstrike in the Gaza Strip, the IDF said.

Nasser Yakob Jabber Nasser “was responsible for financing a significant part of Hamas’ military activities in Rafah,” the military said. Last December, he transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas, it added.

More than 1 million refugees are crowded into Rafah. Despite international warnings, Israel is planning a military operation there to dismantle what Israel claims are the last Hamas battalions.

According to the Hamas-controlled health authorities, more than 33,500 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war triggered by the Hamas-led attacks on Israel more than six months ago. More than 76,000 Palestinians have been injured. The numbers do not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

In the attack by Hamas and other Palestinian militants on the Israeli border area on October 7, more than 1,200 people were killed and, according to Israeli media, over 250 people were abducted to the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, the IDF withdrew the bulk of its forces from parts of southern Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nevertheless insists that a ground assault on the remaining intact Hamas forces in Rafah is imminent, despite international calls for it to be called off.

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