Israeli troops pull from Northern Gaza

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Israeli forces have pulled back from the northern part of the Gaza Strip, where they had launched a ground offensive against the Palestinian group, Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, has announced.

Al Jazeera reports that the Qassam Brigades said the Israeli operation in the north was a “failure” and that 70 percent of the Israeli troops had left the area.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have intensified their airstrikes and shelling on other parts of Gaza, especially the southern city of Khan Younis, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge after fleeing from the north.

Israel has dropped leaflets over Khan Younis, warning residents to evacuate their homes and saying that the city will be the next target of its military campaign. The leaflets also urged Palestinians to move “south to safe zones” and accused Hamas of preventing them from “getting out of harm’s way”.

However, many Palestinians have nowhere to go, as the border crossings with Egypt and Israel remain closed. Some have taken shelter in schools, hospitals, and mosques, but these places have also come under attack by Israeli forces.

On Thursday, a blast at a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Khan Younis killed at least five people and injured dozens more, according to local health officials. The school was hosting about 4,000 displaced people at the time of the explosion.

The UNRWA condemned the attack and said that it was a violation of international humanitarian law, which protects civilians and humanitarian workers in conflict zones. The UNRWA also called for “unhindered humanitarian access” to Gaza, where the situation is “spiraling” and more than 3,700 people have been killed or wounded since the start of the Israeli offensive on October 19.

The Israeli military has not confirmed or denied its involvement in the school blast, but said that it was investigating the incident. It also said that it was targeting Hamas’s rocket launchers, tunnels, and command centers in Gaza, and that it was doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.

The Israeli offensive on Gaza began after Hamas fired rockets into Israel, following weeks of tension and violence over the planned evictions of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and the Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, one of the holiest sites for Muslims.

The international community has called for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, but so far, the efforts to broker a truce have failed. President Joe Biden visited Israel on Wednesday and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but left without announcing any breakthrough. Biden said that he supported Israel’s right to defend itself, but also expressed concern for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the loss of innocent lives on both sides.

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