Palestinians fight in Gaza’s hard-hit areas

A PALESTINIAN walks through the destruction by the Israeli bombardment in the Nusseirat refugee camp in Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.
A PALESTINIAN walks through the destruction by the Israeli bombardment in the Nusseirat refugee camp in Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. AP

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinian militants battled Israeli forces in devastated northern Gaza and launched a barrage of rockets from farther south Tuesday in a show of force more than 100 days into Israel's massive air and ground campaign against the tiny coastal enclave.

The fighting in the north, which was the first target of Israel's offensive and where entire neighborhoods have been pulverized, showed how far Israel is from achieving its goals of dismantling Hamas and returning scores of hostages captured in the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war.

In other developments, France and Qatar, the Persian Gulf nation that helped mediate a previous cease-fire, said late Tuesday that they had brokered a deal between Israel and Hamas to deliver medicine to Israeli hostages in Gaza, as well as additional aid to Palestinians in the besieged territory.

Deal

France said it had been working since October on the deal, which will provide three months' worth of medication for 45 hostages with chronic illnesses, as well as other medicines and vitamins. The medicines are expected to enter Gaza from Egypt on Wednesday.

It was the first known agreement between the warring sides since a weeklong truce in November.

Meanwhile, Gaza's humanitarian crisis is worsening, with 85 percent of the territory's 2.3 million Palestinians having fled their homes and United Nations agencies warning of mass starvation and disease. The conflict threatens to widen after the United States and Israel traded strikes with Iranian-backed groups across the region.

Israel has vowed to crush Hamas' military and governing capabilities to ensure that the Oct. 7 attack is never repeated. Militants stormed into Israel from Gaza that day, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage. With strong diplomatic and military support from the United States, Israel has resisted international calls for a cease-fire.

Nearly half of the hostages were released during the truce, but more than 100 remain in captivity. Hamas has said it will not release any others until Israel ends the war.

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