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Fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas in Khan Younès

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Palestinians search through the rubble of a building demolished by an Israeli raid in Khan Younes.

Agence France-Presse

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Fierce fighting continues Thursday in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and the Israeli army, which took the large city of Khan Younes where it is tracking down the architect of the bloody October 7 attack against Israel.

Predicting a total collapse of law and order soon in Gaza, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres once again called for a humanitarian ceasefire, drawing a rebuff scathing attack on Israel. The Israeli government, however, authorized the delivery of minimal additional fuel to Gaza to avoid a humanitarian collapse and epidemics.

Engaged since October 27 in a ground offensive against Hamas in northern Gaza, in parallel with its campaign of massive airstrikes, Israel has extended its ground operations to the entire small, overpopulated Palestinian territory. The civilian population is being pushed to move to an increasingly cramped area in Rafah, along the Egyptian border.

In Khan Younes, the largest city in the south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli infantrymen, armored vehicles and bulldozers reached the city center, according to witnesses. The Israeli army claimed Wednesday evening that it had broken through Hamas's defensive lines, eliminated a number of terrorists and destroyed around 30 tunnel entrances.

As night fell on Wednesday, thick clouds of black smoke and flames continued to rise from Gaza. During the day, trails drawn by rockets fired towards Israel from Rafah, in the south of the small Palestinian territory, also punctuated the sky.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli forces were surrounding the house of [Yahya] Sinouar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in Khan Yunis.

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Sinouar is hiding underground, said Daniel Hagari, an army spokesperson, referring to Hamas tunnels under Gaza. /p>

Yahya Sinouar, 61, 23 of whom spent in Israeli prisons, is considered the architect of the unprecedented attack of October 7: this That day, hundreds of Hamas commandos infiltrated into Israel from Gaza killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians according to Israeli authorities, and took some 240 people hostage.

According to the Israeli government, 138 hostages are still being held in Gaza, following the release in late November as part of a seven-day truce of 105 people kidnapped, including 80 in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel .

Yahya Sinouar has not been seen publicly in Gaza since October 7.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed in combat on Wednesday in the Gaza Strip, according to the army.

The Israeli army also announced the discovery in the north of the territory, in the heart of the civilian population, near a clinic and a school, of a very important weapons depot, seeing this as additional proof of Hamas' use of human shields. She also said she had killed half of Hamas's commanders to date.

On its Telegram channel, the Palestinian Islamist movement affirmed that its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, is fighting violently against the occupation forces on all lines of incursion in the Gaza Strip. p>

The entire city suffered destruction and incessant bombing. Many people arrive from the north in dire conditions, homeless, in search of their children, Hassan Al-Qadi, a resident of Khan Younes who was moved further south to Rafah, a border town with Iran, told AFP. #x27;Egypt.

Faced with the rising toll, the lack of food and the thousands of displaced people finding themselves completely destitute, the secretary general of the x27;UN Antonio Guterres has warned of a total collapse of law and order soon in Gaza.

Mr. Guterres used for the first time in his mandate a rare procedure, Article 99 of the United Nations Charter, which allows him to draw the attention of the Security Council to a file that could endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. According to several diplomats, the Security Council should meet on Friday to consider this appeal.

Guterres' mandate is a danger for world peace, the head of Israeli diplomacy Eli Cohen responded on X (ex-Twitter), estimating that the activation of article 99 and call for a ceasefire constitutes support for the terrorist organization Hamas.

According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, 16,248 people, more than 70% of them women, children and adolescents, have been killed since October 27 in the Gaza Strip by Israeli bombardments launched in retaliation for the attack. of October 7.

Israel has promised to destroy the Palestinian Islamist movement in power in Gaza since 2007, classified as a terrorist organization by Canada, the United States , the European Union and Israel.

The Israeli government, however, approved on Wednesday a minimum delivery of fuel – necessary to avoid a humanitarian collapse and the emergence of epidemics – in the south of the Gaza Strip, the Prime Minister's office announced on X. The quantity delivered will be determined gradually depending on the humanitarian situation, he added.

The Israeli announcement comes two days after their main ally, the United States, called for more fuel to enter Gaza.

According to the UN, 1.9 million people, or about 85% of the population, have been displaced by the war in the Gaza Strip, where more than half of the homes are destroyed or damaged by Israeli bombing.

The UN has calculated that 30% of the territory now falls under daily Israeli evacuation orders, and considers it impossible to set up safe zones to accommodate civilians fleeing the fighting.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The town of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, is the only place where humanitarian aid is still distributed, in limited quantities, according to the UN.

On Wednesday, 80 trucks carrying food and fuel reached there, compared to an average of 170 per day during the November 24-30 truce and 500 before October 7, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said ( Ocha) in his daily update.

Palestinians who fled Khan Younes, less than 10 kilometers away, set up a makeshift camp there – tents with canvases, plastic sheeting, wooden slats. For their survival: branches collected here and there to make a fire, semolina in bowls for their only food. Displaced people wander with their jerrycans in search of water.

We arrived here, without shelter, it rained on us last night, there is no food, no bread, no flour, Ghassan Bakr tells AFP.

We are devastated, mentally overwhelmed, laments Amal Mahdi, who survived a raid. We need someone to support us, find a solution to get us out of this situation.

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