RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The Israeli army has raided and detained staff at two of the last functioning hospitals in Gaza’s north, where the defense minister said Tuesday that troops were working to completely clear out Hamas militants.
Israel bombarded towns across southern Gaza Tuesday with airstrikes, killing at least 45 Palestinians and pressing ahead with its offensive with renewed backing from the United States, despite rising international alarm. The Israeli defense minister, Yoav Gallant, warned the campaign in Gaza’s south will persist for months.
In a hospital in the southern town of Rafah, Mahmoud Zoarab bid farewell to his two children — a two-year-old boy, and a girl born two weeks ago — killed in a predawn strike on their home. Wounded in the strike, he winced as he peeled back the shrouds to look at their faces as his wife and mother stood by his bed.
“Just two weeks old. Her name hadn’t even been registered,” said the children’s grandmother, Suzan Zoarab. Addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she cried, “Does he think that by killing these children he will achieve something? Have they succeeded now? Has he achieved what he wants?”
Defense Minister Gallant said Israeli forces were entering Hamas’ tunnel network in northern Gaza as part of a “final clearing” of militants from the region. The densely built urban north, including Gaza City, has seen ferocious fighting between troops and militants, with Palestinian health officials reporting dozens of people killed in bombardment in recent days.
Israeli troops have raided a series of hospitals and shelters in the north, detaining men in a search for militants and expelling others taking refuge there. Gallant said that in southern Gaza, operations will take “months,” including the military’s assault on Khan Younis, the territory’s second largest city.