Israel Expands Gaza Operation As Mediator Says Hostage Deal ‘Close’

Israeli forces were expanding their activities in the Gaza Strip on Monday, with Qatari mediators suggesting progress toward freeing some of the 240 hostages held by Hamas militants.

Residents of Gaza’s largest refugee camp, Jabalia, and a nearby coastal camp were warned to evacuate by Israel, which announced an expansion of its operations into additional neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

After heavy bombardment, columns of smoke were seen rising from Jabalia on Sunday, with reports from a Hamas health official indicating over 80 casualties from strikes on a UN school sheltering displaced people.

Social media videos, verified by AFP, depicted scenes of devastation with bodies covered in blood and dust inside buildings, including a school where mattresses were used for protection.

Israel’s military has highlighted Jabalia as a focus area for targeting terrorists and striking Hamas infrastructure, although they have not directly acknowledged these specific strikes.

While not explicitly mentioning the strikes, the Israeli army acknowledged an “incident in the Jabalia region” was under review.

UN rights chief Volker Turk strongly condemned the alleged strike on the school, describing the events in Gaza over the past 48 hours as horrifying.

On Monday, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the Indonesian hospital near Jabalia had also been shelled.


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