Commando seriously hurt as Israeli tanks said to push back into northern Gaza

Palestinians say airstrike kills several people in Rafah; IDF hits primed rocket launchers in central part of Strip

A plume of smoke billows during Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas (AFP)
A plume of smoke billows during Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas (AFP)

Israeli tanks pushed back into parts of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday that they had left weeks ago, medics and residents said, while warplanes conducted air strikes on Rafah in the south of the territory, killing and wounding several people.

Residents reported an internet outage in the areas of Beit Hanoun and Jabaliya in northern Gaza. Tanks advanced into Beit Hanoun and surrounded some schools where displaced families have taken refuge, said the residents and media outlets of the terror group Hamas.

“Occupation soldiers ordered all families inside the schools and the nearby houses where the tanks had advanced to evacuate. The soldiers detained many men,” one resident of northern Gaza told Reuters via a chat app.

The Israel Defense Forces had announced Saturday it was carrying out a pinpoint operation in Beit Hanoun, but did not immediately provide details on the latest developments in the area.

On Tuesday, a soldier of the Israeli Air Force’s Shaldag commando unit was seriously wounded during fighting against Hamas in Beit Hanoun, the IDF said Wednesday morning.

Hamas, in a statement, claimed to have shot the soldier in a sniper attack.


Beit Hanoun, home to 60,000 people, was one of the first areas targeted by Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza last October. After urging civilians to evacuate, the vast majority of whom did, Israel’s heavy bombardment turned most of Beit Hanoun, once known as ‘the basket of fruit’ because of its orchards, into a ghost town comprising piles of rubble.

Many families who returned to Beit Hanoun and Jabaliya in recent weeks after Israeli forces withdrew, began moving out again on Tuesday because of the new raid, some residents said.

Israel has said Hamas regularly operates from civilian sites and that it will act wherever necessary against the terror group.

Palestinians check the rubble of a building after Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas (AFP)

Palestinian health officials said an Israeli strike killed four people and wounded several others in Rafah, where over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are sheltering and bracing for a planned Israeli ground offensive into the city, which borders Egypt.

Just before midnight, an Israeli airstrike hit a house in Rafah and killed seven people, including children, and wounded several others, Palestinian health officials said. There was no immediate Israeli comment.

Palestinian health officials and Hamas media said an Israeli airstrike also killed 11 Palestinians, including children, in the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“My brothers were sitting by the door, my brother was injured, and his cousin too, and I lost my son, I do not have a house, nor a husband, nor anything anymore,” said Wafaa Issa al-Nouri, whose son Mohammad and husband were killed in the strike.

“He was playing by the door, we didn’t do anything, I swear we didn’t do anything,” she said.

The Hamas-run interior ministry also said an Israeli air strike had hit a police car in the Tuffah district of Gaza City, killing seven Hamas police officers.

This picture taken from Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip shows an Israeli tank rolling along the border with the Palestinian territory on April 16, 2024 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

On Wednesday morning, the military said the Israeli Air Force struck more than 40 targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day, including rocket launchers primed for attacks on Israel.

The primed rocket launchers were destroyed in the central Gaza Strip, where the IDF was carrying out a pinpoint operation against Hamas.

Amid the operation, on the outskirts of the Nuseirat camp, the military said troops killed numerous gunmen and destroyed sites used by terror groups over the past day, including by calling in airstrikes.

One airstrike was carried out against a cell that was operating an armed drone, according to the IDF. The army also said that troops of the Nahal Brigade used a drone to kill a gunman, and killed another with sniper fire.

Other targets hit by the IAF in the past day included underground rocket launch positions, booby-trapped buildings, structures where operatives were gathered, observation posts, underground sites, and other infrastructure, the IDF added.

In Nuseirat, residents said Israeli planes bombed and destroyed four multi-story residential buildings on Tuesday.

After six months of fighting, there was still no sign of any breakthrough in US-backed talks led by Qatar and Egypt to clinch a ceasefire deal in Gaza, as Israel and Hamas stick to their mutually irreconcilable conditions.

On Monday White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said humanitarian aid getting into the Strip has increased by a large amount in the last few days.

A truck carrying humanitarian aid arrives for processing at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza on April 15, 2024. (AFP)

“The aid has increased and quite dramatically in just the last few days,” Kirby said in an interview with MSNBC. “That’s important but it has to be sustained.”

More than 2,000 trucks had been able to get in, about 100 in the last 24 hours alone, Kirby said then.

The amount of aid now entering Gaza is disputed, with Israel and Washington saying aid flows have risen but UN agencies saying it is still far below bare minimum levels.

Israel is under international pressure to allow more aid into Gaza, especially northern areas where famine is expected by May, according to the United Nations.

Israel’s military said it had facilitated the entry of 126 trucks into northern Gaza late on Monday from the south.

It also said it was working in collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP) to facilitate the opening of two more bakeries in northern Gaza after the first began operations on Monday with WFP help.

People walk amid the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli operations against Hamas in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024 (AFP)

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

Vowing to destroy Hamas and return the hostages, Israel launched a wide-scale offensive in Gaza that the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry says has killed at least 33,729 Palestinians, mostly women and children. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 13,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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