Israel Defense Forces are urging the residents of the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis to evacuate, as fighting resumes following Hamas' violation of the truce when it fired rockets into Israel on Friday morning.
Local residents in Khan Younis said the IDF dropped leaflets in Arabic warning that “the city of Khan Younis is a dangerous combat zone.”
In a released official statement, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office blasted the Hamas terror group for violating the truce and not honoring its obligation to release all female Israeli hostages. It further pledged to eliminate Hamas and return all of the remaining hostages back home.
"The Hamas-ISIS terrorist organization has violated the outline. It has not met its obligation to release all of the women hostages today and has launched rockets at Israeli citizens. Upon the resumption of fighting, we emphasize: The Government of Israel is committed to achieving the goals of the war; releasing the hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to the residents of Israel,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.
Following Israel’s control of most of the northern Gaza Strip, any Hamas top leaders and the majority of Hamas terror operatives still living are believed to have relocated south to Khan Younis and Rafah, close to the Egyptian border. Current Hamas Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, believed to be the mastermind behind the Oct. 7 massacre, was born in Khan Younis and the city is known to be a major Hamas stronghold.
In November, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Euronews outlet: "Khan Younis, which is in the southern part of Gaza Strip, is the real headquarters of Hamas.”
"They have the leadership, they are hiding, they have the bunkers, they have the command positions, they have the launching pads," the former Israeli premier added.
The fighting in southern Gaza will likely be complicated by the fact that the majority of Gaza’s residents, roughly two million, are concentrated in the south after Israel previously urged them to leave battle zones in the northern part of the enclave.
While the Biden administration backs the Jewish state’s legitimate right of self-defense against the unprecedented Hamas aggression, Washington has increasingly expressed concern about the growing number of civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who recently made his fourth visit to Israel since the war began, urged Israeli war cabinet leaders to avoid “massive loss of civilian life” in southern Gaza.
"We discussed the details of Israel's ongoing planning and I underscored the imperative for the United States that the massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale that we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated in the South," Blinken stated.
Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Health Ministry claims that some 15,000 Gazans have died in the war that Hamas initiated on Oct. 7 when it invaded southern Israel border communities and massacred some 1,200 Israeli civilians, including women, children, babies and elderly Holocaust survivors.
However, it should be noted that there are no independent sources to verify Hamas’ reported casualties in Gaza. In addition, Hamas does not distinguish between civilians and Hamas fighters, nor does it report the number of Gazan casualties caused by misfired Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets aimed at Israeli civilians.
Israel Defense Forces estimate that the army has already eliminated thousands of terrorists belonging to Hamas and other terror factions.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.