The Latest | Israeli troops launch attacks in central Gaza, possibly widening their offensive

The Israeli military said it has started “operational activity” in two areas of central Gaza in a possible broadening of its monthslong ground offensive against Hamas

The Associated Press
Wednesday 05 June 2024 10:11 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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The Israeli military said it has started "operational activity” in two areas of central Gaza in a possible broadening of its monthslong ground offensive against Hamas.

The military said Wednesday its forces were operating “both above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and Bureij, a built-up Palestinian refugee camp dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. It said the operation began with airstrikes on militant infrastructure, after which troops began a “targeted daylight operation” in both areas.

The eight-month offensive has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians who are facing widespread hunger. International mediators wait for Israel and Hamas to respond to a new cease-fire and hostage release proposal, according to Qatar, which has played a key role in negotiations alongside Egypt and the United States.

Announcing the proposal last week, U.S. President Joe Biden said the three-phase plan was Israeli. However, Israeli leaders have since appeared to distance themselves from the proposal and vowed to keep fighting Hamas until the group is destroyed.

Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Around 80 hostages captured on Oct. 7 are believed to still be alive in Gaza, alongside the remains of 43 others.

Currently:

— Gunman captured after shootout outside US Embassy in Lebanon.

— Rights group claims Israel has hit residential buildings with white phosphorous in Lebanon.

— I n a West Bank refugee camp, Israel’s raids fuel the militancy it tries to stamp out.

— Famine is possibly underway in northern Gaza despite recent aid efforts, a new report warns.

— As Gaza hostage crisis drags on for Israel, here’s what we know.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Here's the latest:

ISRAEL SAYS IT HAS STARTED ‘OPERATIONAL ACTIVITY’ IN 2 AREAS OF CENTRAL GAZA

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it has “started operational activity” in two areas of central Gaza in a possible broadening of its monthslong ground offensive against Hamas.

The military said Wednesday that forces were operating “both above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and Bureij, a built-up Palestinian refugee camp dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. It said the operation began with airstrikes on militant infrastructure, after which troops began a “targeted daylight operation” in both areas.

Israel has routinely launched airstrikes in all parts of Gaza since the start of the war and has carried out massive ground operations in the territory’s two largest cities, Gaza City and Khan Younis, that left much of them in ruins.

The military waged an offensive earlier this year for several weeks in Bureij and several other nearby refugee camps in central Gaza.

Troops pulled out of the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza last Friday after weeks of fighting caused widespread destruction. First responders have recovered the bodies of 360 people, mostly women and children, killed during the battles.

Israel sent troops into Rafah last month in what it said was a limited incursion, but those forces are now operating in central parts of Gaza’s southernmost city. More than 1 million people have fled Rafah since the start of the operation, with many heading toward central Gaza.

ISRAEL OVERHAULS SHADOWY MILITARY PRISON SYSTEM

JERUSALEM -- Israel says it is overhauling the operations of a shadowy military prison used to hold Palestinian detainees after outcry over conditions over the facility.

The Sde Teiman facility has served as the main holding place for the thousands of detainees Israel has rounded up in Gaza during an eight-month offensive. The facility has raised concerns of human rights abuses.

State attorneys said during a Supreme Court hearing Wednesday that over the next week the government will transfer 500 of 700 detainees currently held there to the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank. They pledged to move the remaining 200 at a later date and use the prison only as a short-term holding facility.

The state lawyers also said the facility’s medical center would be improved and eventually replaced by a new hospital.

Rights groups had asked the Supreme Court to close the facility, alleging poor conditions and a lack of oversight.

Detainees can be held there pre-trial and without access to an attorney for over a month, under a wartime revision to Israeli law.

Based on interviews with Palestinian detainees held there and soldier whistleblowers, rights groups have said the detainees are shackled and blindfolded in pens inside warehouse-like structures under harsh floodlights.

Doctors working at the medical facility there have raised concerns to The Associated Press that patients are treated while cuffed and blindfolded and surgeries are conducted without adequate painkillers.

Israel says it has detained about 4,000 Palestinians during its Gaza offensive, saying the detentions are necessary to gather intelligence. It has released 1,500 after deeming them unaffiliated with Palestinian militant groups.

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