Street battles rage in Gaza as Hamas uses tunnel network to ambush Israeli forces

Palestinian militant group says its fighters have inflicted heavy losses on Israeli forces

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Street battles raged in Gaza city as Israeli tanks met heavy resistance from Hamas fighters, who were staging ambushes using their network of underground tunnels.

The Israeli military said its troops had advanced into the heart of Gaza city but the Palestinian militant group said its fighters had inflicted heavy losses.

The armed wing of Hamas released a video on Wednesday that appeared to show intense street battles alongside bombed out buildings in Gaza city.

Sources with Iran-backed Hamas and their allied Islamic Jihad militant group told Reuters that Hamas fighters were using the tunnels to attack Israeli forces.

Israel struck Gaza in response to a cross-border Hamas raid on southern Israel on October 7 in which gunmen killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Palestinian officials said 10,569 people had been killed as of Wednesday, 40 per cent of them children. Israel says 33 of its soldiers have been killed.

Six people were killed while others were injured after Israeli missiles struck a house in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip overnight, the Palestinian Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

The US said on Wednesday that a postwar Gaza must be governed by Palestinians after Israeli said it would control security in the enclave indefinitely.

Leaders in Washington have begun discussions with Israeli and Arab leaders over a future for the Gaza Strip without Hamas rule.

“No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday at a press conference in Tokyo.

He said there may be a need for “some transition period” at the end of the conflict but post-crisis governance “must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”

On Monday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC News that Israel would, “for an indefinite period”, have security responsibility for the enclave after the war.

Gazans flee north on foot as Israeli attacks continue

Gazans flee north on foot as Israeli attacks continue

Chief Israeli military spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday that Hamas had lost control in the north of Gaza.

Israel's combat engineers were using explosive devices to destroy Hamas' tunnel network that stretches for hundreds of kilometres beneath Gaza, he said. The military said it had destroyed 130 tunnel shafts so far.

Israel has blamed Hamas for civilian deaths in Gaza, saying that it is using Gazans as human shields and hiding arms and operations centres in residential areas.

Israeli troops took foreign reporters to the edges of Gaza city on Wednesday.

Gaza health collapse

The Gaza Strip is at an increased risk of disease spreading due to Israeli air strikes that have disrupted the health system and access to clean water, and caused people to crowd in shelters, the World Health Organisation warned on Wednesday.

“As deaths and injuries in Gaza continue to rise due to intensified hostilities, intense overcrowding and disrupted health, water and sanitation systems pose an added danger – the rapid spread of infectious diseases,” the WHO said.

“Some worrying trends are already emerging.”

It said that the lack of fuel in the densely populated enclave had caused desalination plants to shut down, which increased the risk of bacterial infections such as diarrhoea spreading.

The WHO said that more than 33,551 cases of diarrhoea had been reported since mid-October, most of which were among children under the age of five.

The lack of fuel has also disrupted the collection of solid waste, which the WHO said created an “environment conducive to the rapid and widespread proliferation of insects and rodents that can carry and transit diseases”.

It said that it was “almost impossible” for health centres to maintain basic infection prevention measures, increasing the risk of infection caused by trauma, surgery and childbirth.

“Disrupted routine vaccination activities, as well as lack of medicines for treating communicable diseases, further increase the risk of accelerated disease spread,” the WHO said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Updated: November 09, 2023, 5:28 AM