Central Gaza devastated as Israel continues to bombard Hamas

As Israeli forces continued to attack central Gaza from land, sea and air on Wednesday, the Palestinian death toll rose by dozens and the U.N. health agency reported that thousands of people were escaping the violence.

Israel’s military chief Herzi Halevi said on Tuesday that the war against Hamas would go on for many months, despite the international pressure for a ceasefire and the humanitarian crisis. He said there was no easy way to destroy a terrorist group.

Israel also indicated that it might increase its retaliation to cross-border assaults from its northern neighbour Lebanon, where Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, is located.

The Gaza health ministry said that 20 Palestinians died on Wednesday from an Israeli air strike near the Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military did not comment on this.

In the Al-Maghazi district of central Gaza, an air strike killed five Palestinians, according to medics, while in Gaza City to the north, health officials said that Al Shifa Hospital received the bodies of seven Palestinians who died overnight.

People living in central Gaza said that Israeli tank fire became more intense after dark, east of Al-Bureij and Al-Maghazi refugee camps where tanks have been pushing through.

On Wednesday, Israel’s military said that three more soldiers died in action in Gaza, bringing the total number of military casualties in the territory since the ground operation started on Oct. 20 to 166.

The war started after Hamas killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages in a cross-border raid on Oct. 7, the worst day in Israel’s history. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a campaign that has devastated most of Gaza under Hamas control.

The Gaza health ministry said that in the last 24 hours, Israeli forces killed 195 Palestinians and injured 325, bringing the total number of deaths and injuries from Israeli attacks in the coastal Palestinian area since Oct. 7 to 21,110 and 55,243 respectively.

Almost all of the 2.3 million people in the enclave have been displaced, some more than once.

In Tel Aviv, a large clock showed the time that had passed since Hamas took the hostages, as their families continued to demand their release.

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