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Dozens of Palestinians killed in Gaza as Hamas official vows to ‘break’ Israel

israeli soldiers listen to a briefing near the israel gaza border
Israeli soldiers listen to a briefing near the Israel-Gaza border

Israeli forces fought Palestinian militants in the north and centre of the Gaza Strip on Friday as Khaled Meshaal, a senior official in Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, said its six-month-old battle with Israel would “break the enemy soon”.

Most Israeli troops have been pulled out of Gaza in preparation for an assault on the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering, but fighting has continued in various areas.

Residents of Al-Nusseirat camp in central Gaza said dozens were dead or wounded after Israeli bombardment from air, land and sea that had followed a surprise ground offensive on Thursday, and that houses and two mosques had been destroyed.

Health officials said earlier that six people had been killed in strikes on the camp, and around 70 wounded, including three Palestinian journalists.

In Gaza City, Palestinian health officials said at least 25 people had been killed and several wounded in an Israeli air strike on a house in Al-Daraj neighbourhood. Gaza’s health ministry said 89 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli military strikes in the space of 24 hours.

The Israel military (IDF) said it was pursuing “a precise intelligence-based operation” against militants and their infrastructure in central Gaza.”Over the past day, IDF fighter jets struck over 60 terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including underground launch posts, military infrastructure and sites in which armed terrorists operated,” a military statement said. “In parallel, IDF artillery struck terrorist infrastructure in the central Gaza Strip.”

Meshaal spoke at an event in Doha, Qatar, to mourn members of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh’s family killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza on Wednesday.

“This is not the final round,” he said. “It is an important round on the path of liberating Palestine and defeating the Zionist project.”

At least 33,545 Palestinians have now been killed since the Israeli offensive began, Gaza’s health ministry said, with most of the 2.3 million population displaced and much of the enclave laid to waste.

The war began when Hamas led an attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage. Around 130 are still being held incommunicado in Gaza, Israel says.

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