Israel bombs tunnels

Chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday that “Hamas has lost control in the north” of Gaza.

Israel’s combat engineers were using explosive devices to destroy Hamas’ tunnel network that stretches for hundreds of kilometres beneath Gaza, he said. The military said it had destroyed 130 tunnel shafts so far.

Israel has blamed Hamas for civilian deaths in Gaza, saying that it is using Gazans as human shields and hiding arms and operations centres in residential areas.

Israeli troops took foreign reporters to the edges of Gaza City on Wednesday. Journalists saw a devastated landscape where every building within sight was scarred by battle.

Walls were blown away while bullet holes and shrapnel dotted the facades and palm trees were shredded and broken.

Lieutenant Colonel Ido, deputy commander of the 401st Brigade, who did not give his last name, said that by the time soldiers reached these buildings, all the families had left.

“So we know that everyone here is our enemy. We have not seen any civilians here. Only Hamas,” he said, standing in a badly damaged children’s bedroom that was painted pink.

Soldiers on the press tour said that beneath the family apartment were two floors of workshops used to make weapons, including drones discovered in five wooden boxes.

It was not possible to verify the claim.

50,000 Palestinians head south

Some 50,000 Palestinian civilians left the north on Wednesday, Mr Hagari said, during a four-hour window of opportunity announced by Israel.

The Israeli military has repeatedly told residents to evacuate the north or risk being trapped in the violence.

At least 19 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house near a hospital in north Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp on Wednesday, the enclave’s interior ministry said.

There was no immediate Israeli comment or details on the reported attack, which if confirmed would be the third on Gaza’s largest refugee camp in a week.

UN officials and G-7 world powers stepped up appeals for a humanitarian pause in the war to assist civilians in Gaza, where necessities including food, medicine and fuel are running out.

Negotiations mediated by Qatar, where several Hamas political leaders are based, are trying to secure the release of 10 to 15 hostages in exchange for a one- to two-day humanitarian pause in Gaza, a source briefed on the talks said on Wednesday. REUTERS

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