Skip to main content

Battles rage across Gaza, Israel releases images of armed men at UN site

2 min

Israeli troops fought militants across Gaza on Wednesday, including in the southern city of Rafah that had been a refuge for civilians, in an upsurge of the more than seven-month war that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.

An Israeli soldier sits in a tank near the Israel-Gaza border, May 15, 2024. Reuters/Amir Cohen

Israeli troops fought militants across Gaza on Wednesday, including in the southern city of Rafah that had been a refuge for civilians, in an upsurge of the more than seven-month war that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Antagonism between Israel and the United Nations worsened as the Israeli army sought an explanation for footage showing armed men next to U.N. Palestinian relief agency vehicles. Separately, the U.N. said it was investigating an unidentified strike that killed an international staff member in Gaza earlier this week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's army has in recent days pressed into the east of Rafah in pursuit of what it says are four Hamas battalions, despite warnings from its ally the U.S. and others to hold off to avoid mass civilian casualties.

Hamas ally Islamic Jihad said it killed some foot soldiers in Jabalia, while Israel's military said it had eliminated many militants in an area it had claimed to have cleared months ago.

Israeli tanks have been massed around the eastern edges of Rafah and in recent days have been probing into built up areas of the city, where hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting have been sheltering from fighting elsewhere.

Residents said Israeli forces had pushed into three eastern neighbourhoods and Palestinian gunmen were trying to prevent Israeli soldiers and tanks moving towards the centre.

Israel said its troops targeted a training compound in the city's east, killing militants in close-quarters combat and finding large amounts of weapons.

Israel reported one death in south Gaza which public broadcaster Kan said was the first such fatality since the start of a ground operation there last week.

In the north, Israeli military said it had concluded an operation in the Zeitoun area, killing "dozens of terrorists". Residents said tanks had pulled back from the area, with dozens of homes destroyed or damaged, while Palestinian medics said dozens of civilians had been killed and wounded.

Israel said its troops had identified fighters in the central logistics compound of the U.N. Palestinian relief agency UNRWA east of Rafah, demanding an explanation. Reuters verified the location of footage released by the Israeli army but could not verify when it was filmed or the identity of the men.

"The U.N. has in part become a terrorist entity in itself because it cooperates with Hamas and covers for it," Israel's ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan told Army Radio.

UNRWA has denied allegations of cooperating with Hamas.

The agency said it was examining the footage and would share information when possible. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters the men were there to protect aid distribution.

UNRWA lacks credibility. Its close ties with Islamist organizations in Gaza are proven and well-documented.

By Nidal al-Mughrabi and James Mackenzie with Mena Today 

Related

Gaza

Reports suggest strong ties between UNRWA and Hamas

UNRWA, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, has updated that 191 of its workers have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the war

Subscribe to our newsletter

Mena banner 4

To make this website run properly and to improve your experience, we use cookies. For more detailed information, please check our Cookie Policy.

  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and can only be disabled by changing your browser preferences.