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Israeli forces fight Hamas gunmen in Gaza tunnels as Netanyahu rejects calls to halt fighting

Israel said on Tuesday its forces attacked Hamas gunmen inside the Islamists' vast tunnel network beneath Gaza, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed calls for a halt to fighting to ease the Palestinian enclave's humanitarian crisis.

Hamas says it's hit Israeli military positions in Gaza's north and south

Plumes of smoke rise from a city that has been reduced to rubble. In the foreground, a tank drives on a road.


  • Israel says it attacked Hamas militants inside tunnels
  • Militants target Israeli military positions in Gaza's northwest and south, Hamas says
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel won't agree to a ceasefire with Hamas.

Israel said on Tuesday its forces attacked Hamas gunmen inside the Islamists' vast tunnel network beneath Gaza, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed calls for a halt to fighting to ease the Palestinian enclave's humanitarian crisis.

The tunnels are a key objective for Israel as it expands ground operations inside Gaza to wipe out the ruling Hamas movement following its gun rampage three weeks ago that Israeli authorities say killed over 1,400 people.

"Over the last day, combined IDF combat forces struck approximately 300 targets, including anti-tank missile and rocket launch posts below shafts, as well as military compounds inside underground tunnels belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization," the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said in a statement.

Militants responded with anti-tank missiles and machine gun fire, it added.

Witnesses said Israeli forces targeted Gaza's main north-south road on Monday and attacked Gaza City from two directions. Israel said its troops freed a soldier from Hamas captivity.

People search amid a ruined building for survivors.

Hamas, an armed Islamist group that governs Gaza, has so far released four civilians from the 239 hostages Israel says were captured on Oct. 7. Many of the hostages are believed to held in the Hamas tunnel network.

The al-Qassam brigades, Hamas' armed wing, said militants clashed early on Tuesday with Israeli forces "invading the southern Gaza axis, (including) with machine guns, and targeted four vehicles with al-Yassin 105 missiles," referring to locally produced anti-tank missiles.

The militants also targeted two Israeli tanks and bulldozers in northwest Gaza with the missiles, al-Qassam said.

A sobbing woman is led out of house by two soldiers.

Reuters was not able to confirm the reports of fighting. Israel's military had no immediate comment.

Gaza health authorities say that 8,306 people, including 3,457 minors, have been killed in Israeli attacks since Oct. 7. UN officials say more than 1.4 million of Gaza's civilian population of about 2.3 million have been made homeless.

The mounting death toll has drawn calls from the U.S., Israel's top ally, other countries and the UN for a pause in fighting to allow more humanitarian aid to reach the enclave.

Netanyahu said late on Monday that Israel would not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas in Gaza and would press ahead with its plans to wipe out the group.

Two women wearing hijab weep among a bigger crowd.

Military specialists said Israeli forces are moving slowly in their ground offensive in part to keep open the possibility that Hamas militants will negotiate the release of the hostages.

The relative caution with which Israeli troops have taken and secured slices of territory in the first days of sustained ground operations in Gaza stands in contrast to the past three weeks of unrelenting air strikes on the Mediterranean enclave, as well as to Israel's previous land offensives there.

WATCH | Netanyahu rejects calls for a pause in fighting:

Israeli forces push further into Gaza

7 hours ago

Duration 3:22

Featured VideoAs the Israeli ground forces push further into Gaza, flattening buildings and killing more Palestinian civilians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not agree to a ceasefire. Hamas released a video of three hostages criticizing Netanyahu but many are suspicious they were coerced into saying so.

Israel's military said it struck more than 600 militant targets in recent days in Gaza, where Palestinian civilians are in dire need of fuel, food and clean water.

The UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said that water supply through a pipeline from Israel to southern Gaza was cut off on Monday "for unknown reasons," and that an announced repair of another pipeline to central Gaza did not take place.

"At the time of writing, no water is provided to Gaza from Israel," OCHA said on its website.

Significantly fewer humanitarian aid trucks have reached the besieged enclave than are required, UN officials said, and civil order has broken down with people storming UN warehouses in search of food.

'Disaster on top of disaster'

That has put four UN aid distribution centres and a storage facility out of action, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Monday.

"It's a disaster on top of a disaster. Health needs are soaring and our ability to meet those needs is rapidly declining," World Health Organization regional emergencies chief Rick Brennan said, reiterating international calls for a ceasefire to enable a larger humanitarian operation.

Aid trucks have been trickling into Gaza from Egypt over the past week via Rafah, the main crossing that does not border Israel. It has become the main point of aid delivery since Israel imposed a "total siege" of Gaza after Oct. 7.

The White House said it was working to get more aid trucks into Gaza.

The conflict has led to demonstrations worldwide in support of the Palestinians, and antisemitic and Islamophobic harassment.

Biden administration officials, voicing alarm at reports of anti-Jewish incidents at U.S. universities, met American Jewish leaders on Monday to discuss steps to counter the surge, a White House official said.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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