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Israel Hits Back At A Very Dense Gaza Area, Casualities Plenty

The Israeli military announced that the strike had killed a ringleader of the Oct. 7 attacks. The medical director of a nearby hospital reported hundreds of injured people and many deaths.

Israel said it targeted Hamas militants Tuesday in northern Gaza, and Hamas and hospital officials said the airstrikes killed and wounded many and leveled part of the Jabaliya neighborhood.

The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, said the Israeli strikes killed and wounded “hundreds,” a statement that could not be immediately verified. A doctor at a nearby hospital, Dr. Marwan Sultan, said the facility was receiving hundreds of injured and that dozens were dead.

Israel’s military said in a statement that its fighter jets, in a “wide-scale” attack, had struck Hamas militants, including a commander who helped plan the Oct. 7 massacre that left 1,400 people dead, mostly civilians.

“His elimination was carried out as part of a wide-scale strike on terrorists and terror infrastructure belonging to the Central Jabaliya Battalion, which had taken control over civilian buildings in Gaza City,” the military said.

It reiterated a warning for Gazans to evacuate south, a call that came as Israeli ground troops and tanks pushed deeper into the Gaza Strip and were edging closer to the territory’s main city. More than half the population of two million people has been displaced since Israel expanded a blockade of the enclave in response to the Hamas attacks.

Humanitarian officials have warned that Palestinian civilians face a growing catastrophe. “The scale of the horror people are experiencing in Gaza is really hard to convey,” Martin Griffiths, the U.N.’s chief official for humanitarian and relief affairs, said in a statement on Monday. “People are becoming increasingly desperate, as they search for food, water and shelter amid the relentless bombing campaign that is wiping out whole families and entire neighborhoods.”

The Israeli military provided few details about the operation along the Gaza border to free the woman, Pvt. Ori Megidish, whose release was kept quiet until word started to trickle out that she had been freed in an overnight raid two days prior.

The soldier came home to a country still deeply traumatized by the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, while worried family members wondered how many of the other 240 hostages would make it home.

The predicament of the hostages underscores the extraordinary dilemma facing Israel as it seeks to achieve its military goal of destroying Hamas while attempting to free the men, women and children held in locations likely scattered around Gaza.

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, met with families of the hostages, and insisted those two goals were not incompatible.

“If there is no military pressure on Hamas, nothing will progress,” he told the families on Sunday. “The military operation is intended, among other things, to increase the chance of returning our people.”

Hamas also appears to understand the nightmare facing Israel, putting pressure on the Israeli government to make concessions, including a break in the fighting. On Tuesday, after the media reported that Ms. Megidish had been freed, Hamas released a video of three Israeli female hostages. One of the women, Daniel Aloni, 44, animated, angry and under extreme duress, criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“You were supposed to free all of us,” Ms. Aloni said. “You committed to free us all. But instead we are carrying your political, security, military, diplomatic failure.”

Gal Koplewitz in Jerusalem contributed to this story.

Communication and internet services have been cut again in the Gaza Strip, the enclave’s main telecommunications provider, Paltel, said in a statement on its social media pages early Wednesday. Connectivity was cut off on Friday evening as Israel began its invasion, leaving Gaza’s two million people in a 34-hour communications blackout, unable to reach the outside world, each other or the emergency services in the midst of Israeli bombardment.

The two also “discussed efforts to safeguard U.S. citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza; continue working tirelessly to bring hostages home; increase urgently the pace and volume of humanitarian assistance that is entering Gaza for distribution to Palestinian civilians; and prevent the conflict from spreading,” the department said.

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