Israeli forces launched a ground assault on southern Gaza’s largest city on Tuesday, with tanks crossing the border fence and advancing west into Khan Yunis.
Residents reported that tanks had entered from the east and were taking up positions around Hamad City, a Qatari-funded housing development. The ground operation follows an intensified aerial bombardment that has left southern Gaza’s hospitals overrun with dead and wounded.
After days of calling on residents to evacuate, on Tuesday morning the Israeli military dropped new leaflets on eastern Khan Yunis telling them not to.
“Don’t move out yet. For your safety, stay in the shelters and hospitals where you are,” the leaflets read.
Khan Younes |
Israeli occupation forces threatens residents of eastern neighborhoods of Khan Younis of firebelts on their neighborhoods in the upcoming hours.
They order them not to move. pic.twitter.com/rnhL7z9VMf
— Younis Tirawi | يونس (@ytirawi) December 5, 2023
At Nasser hospital, the largest medical facility in Khan Yunis, “almost every inch of floor space was taken up by the wounded,” Reuters reported, as more injured Palestinians arrived by the minute. Spokesperson for Gaza’s Health Ministry Ashra al-Qidra said at least 43 corpses had arrived at Nasser Hospital on Tuesday morning.
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces confirmed Sunday that Israel was extending the ground operation to include all areas of the besieged enclave. “The IDF continues to extend its ground operation against Hamas centers in all of the Gaza Strip,” Daniel Hagari told reporters.
As the war enters its 60th day, over 15,900 have been killed in Gaza, including 250 health workers, according to Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila. At a new conference in Ramallah Tuesday, Kaila said that nearly 41,000 had been wounded in Gaza and stressed,“If the pace at which the forces are going continues, the health sector may collapse completely.”
France announced Tuesday it was freezing the assets of Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar for a period of six months. Similar decisions were taken Nov. 13 concerning the assets of Hamas commander Mohammed Deif and his deputy, Marwan Issa.
The newest decree says that all “funds and economic resources owned, held or controlled” by Sinwar are now withheld.
The United Nations’ top emergency relief official, Martin Griffiths, warned Monday of an “apocalyptic” humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Head of the US Agency for International Development Samantha Power traveled to Egypt on Tuesday, where she is expected to announce over $21 million in additional assistance for the Palestinians. The USAID chief “accompanied an aid delivery of 36,000 pounds of food assistance and medical supplies airlifted, at USAID’s request, by the US Department of Defense (DOD) from Amman, Jordan to El-Arish,” USAID said in a Tuesday statement, explaining that Power will “reiterate the United States’ commitment to the protection of civilians.”
Israel has faced increasing pressure from the United States, the United Nations and other international parties to minimize civilian casualties in its bombardment of Gaza. A government spokesperson has said Israel is open to “constructive feedback” on reducing civilian harm, but has vowed to continue its ground and air campaign in Gaza.
“Any constructive feedback that we get, any serious military strategic advice about how to target Hamas while minimizing harm to civilians, we will of course mention,” Eylon Levy said in a Tuesday statement.
Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Rina Bassist, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.
Live updates (all times EDT):
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023
2:50 pm: Netanyahu says Gaza must be demilitarized after the war
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a press conference Tuesday evening that "Gaza must be demilitarized after the war,” adding that “no international force can be responsible for that." Netanyahu did not offer further details on how he thinks this would be implemented.
Also at the press conference, Netanyahu said the Israeli military has so far eliminated "about half of Hamas' battalion commanders." He added that the Israel Defense Forces' aims in Gaza and the humanitarian effort in the enclave do not contradict one another. “If a change needs to be made, we'll do it," he said.
2:16 pm: Pentagon reviewing Amnesty report that US-made bombs hit civilians
The Pentagon is reviewing a report published by Amnesty International on Tuesday that found Israel dropped US-made munitions in two separate strikes on civilian homes in Gaza, press secretary Pat Ryder told reporters.
Ryder did not say what office was reviewing the evidence.
Fragments bearing identifying marks of US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) were recovered at the scene of two airstrikes, which Amnesty described as “unlawful airstrikes on homes full of civilians in the occupied Gaza Strip,” calling for a war crimes investigation.
The strikes killed a total of 43 civilians, including 19 children and 14 women, Amnesty reported.
11:50 am: Two Israeli soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip
Two more Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in the Gaza Strip, bringing the toll of the ground operation to 82, said Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari. The IDF Central Command described the last 24 hours as “especially significant,” with troops fighting Hamas attackers in hundreds of incidents, while reaching the city of Khan Yunis in the south.
10:30 am: US-Israel rift grows over Gaza war timeline
Sources told Al-Monitor that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed a different timeline than what Israel had in mind to end the war. Ben Caspit has an exclusive report on the widening rift.
7:20 am: Gazans have nowhere to go as Israel widens offensive in south
As Israel presses with its ground and air offensive in the southern Gaza Strip, the UN and rights organizations are expressing concerns over the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. The World Health Organization has warned of southern hospitals collapsing as they struggle with the increasing numbers of injured. The Israeli army has ordered the residents of Khan Yunis to evacuate further north, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to “concentrate into what is less than one-third of the Gaza Strip,” according to UNRWA. Beatrice Farhat reports.
6:48 am: Israeli forces storm Khan Yunis
Israeli tanks entered the eastern parts of Khan Younis in southern Gaza through the border fence with Israel and advanced toward the west, according to residents cited by Reuters, for the first time since Israel launched its assault on the south last Friday. In a post on its Telegram channel, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, claimed to have struck two Israeli tanks in the east of Khan Yunis and said its forces have killed several Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army has yet to comment on the claim. Israel resumed its offensive on the Gaza Strip last week after the collapse of a temporary cease-fire, focusing on the south, where it claims the Hamas leadership is hiding.
6:42 am: Hezbollah, Israeli army trade fire along Israel-Lebanon border
The Israeli army struck several positions belonging to the Hezbollah movement in south Lebanon in response to fire toward northern Israel, the military said in a statement. Fighter jets struck “terrorist infrastructure and military posts used for weapons storage and by terrorist operatives,” according to the statement.
The Iran-backed movement earlier claimed to have achieved “direct hits” on an Israeli military site in the Ruwaisa al-Asi area. The National News Agency reported Israeli artillery shelling in several areas in south Lebanon. The two parties have been engaged in tit-for-tat exchanges along the Israel-Lebanon border since the war in Gaza erupted Oct. 7.
5:32 am: US aid chief arrives in Egypt
USAID Administrator Samantha Power arrived in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with an aid shipment of 36,000 pounds of food assistance and medical supplies to be delivered to the Gaza Strip, the agency announced. A USAID spokesperson told Reuters that Power is expected to announce a $21 million aid package to the Palestinians.
Concerns are growing about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has expanded its offensive and entered the southern areas of the Strip, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people are concentrated. “More must be done to protect civilians and accelerate the pace of life-saving assistance reaching the people of Gaza,” Power said in a post on X.
4:00 am: France freezes Sinwar's assets for six months
France said it is freezing the assets of Gaza-based Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar for a period of six months, AFP reported Tuesday morning. The decree, which came into effect Tuesday.
Last month, Secretary of State Laurence Boone called for European financial sanctions against senior Hamas officials. On Nov. 13, the French Finance Ministry said it would freeze the assets of Hamas military branch commander Mohammed Deif for six months.
Monday, Dec. 4, 2023
3:00 pm: Turkey threatens ‘serious consequences’ for Israel pursuing Hamas members in its territory
Turkey warned Israel on Monday over Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar’s remarks on hunting Hamas members in Turkey. Ezgi Akin and Rina Bassist report.
2:00 pm: Telecoms down across Gaza
The main telecom company operating in the Gaza Strip said Monday that internet connections and phone services had been cut across the enclave. "We regret to announce that all telecom services in Gaza Strip have been lost due to the cutoff of main fiber routes from the Israeli side," PalTel said in a statement. The internet monitoring site NetBlocks also said in a post on X that “the Gaza Strip is now in the midst of a near-total internet blackout.”
1:15 pm: US makes progress on second Gaza crossing
State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said the United States is working with Israel to reopen its Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza.
The current entry point for aid in Gaza — the Egypt-controlled Rafah crossing — was used for pedestrian and commercial traffic before the war. The Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, which remains closed, was the main entry point for aid trucks.
4:37 am: Israeli tanks enter southern Gaza
Dozens of Israeli tanks accompanied by armored personnel carriers entered the southern part of the Gaza Strip near Khan Yunis, witnesses told AFP. Fears are growing of an imminent Israeli ground offensive in the south, where the majority of an estimated 1.8 million displaced people are sheltering. Earlier, the Israeli army called on the residents of central Khan Yunis to evacuate further south.
3:07 am: Cross-border fire in south Lebanon continues
Several towns in south Lebanon have come under Israeli artillery shelling, the official National News Agency reported. The Israeli army earlier reported mortar shelling fired from south Lebanon toward Kibbutz Yiftah in northern Israel. The Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israeli forces have been engaged in heavy fire exchanges along the Israel-Lebanon border since the Hamas-Israel war erupted Oct. 7.
2:01 am: Israeli military strikes 200 Hamas targets overnight
The IDF attacked 200 Hamas targets over Sunday night into Monday, said IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, adding that infrastructure used by Hamas located inside schools in the northern Gaza Strip were destroyed. Targets included two tunnel shafts, one of them booby-trapped, situated under a school in Beit Hanoun, where Israeli troops also found explosives and weapons. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip during the night.
2:00 am: Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in West Bank raid
Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians in a car during a raid in the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya, according to the official Wafa news agency. The Ministry of Health said the bodies were not identified and were seized by the Israeli army. Israel's Army Radio confirmed two gunmen were killed during the raid in the city. Two more people were injured and two others detained. At least 256 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the Hamas-Israel war on Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Authority's Health Ministry.