More than 180 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Israeli forces resumed their bombardment of the Gaza Strip after a week-long ceasefire expired, Palestinian officials said.

The eastern areas of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip came under heavy bombardment shortly after dawn on Friday as the deadline expired, with columns of smoke rising into the sky, Reuters news agency reported. Residents set out with belongings piled in carts and sought shelter further west.

Sirens blared in southern Israel as militants fired rockets at cities from the coastal enclave. Hamas said it attacked Tel Aviv but there were no reports of casualties or damage there.

Health officials in the Gaza Strip said Israeli airstrikes killed 184 people, injured at least 589 others and hit more than 20 houses.

The Israeli military dropped leaflets over Gaza City and southern parts of the enclave on Friday, urging civilians to flee to avoid the fighting. However, human rights groups have repeatedly warned that there are no safe places in Gaza.

“Civilians are being ordered to move south, but due to the indiscriminate bombing and ongoing fighting, nowhere in the Gaza Strip is safe,” the NGO Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) said on X, calling on the Israeli army to to cancel the action command.

The United Nations said the fighting was worsening an extreme humanitarian emergency. “Hell on earth has returned to Gaza,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian office in Geneva.

The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) said Israeli forces had informed “all organizations and entities operating at the border crossing” that the entry of trucks would be prohibited “from today” until further notice.

“This decision worsens the suffering of citizens and increases the challenges for humanitarian and aid organizations in alleviating the needs of citizens and displaced people due to the ongoing aggression,” the PRCS said in a post on X.

“Urgent rescue plan”

Speaking to reporters after Israel resumed its bombardment, the Gaza Strip government’s media office called on Arab and Muslim states to urgently set up field hospitals in the besieged enclave to rescue “tens of thousands of injured.”

Office spokeswoman Salama Marouf said a “large number of relief trucks” were also urgently needed, including at least a million liters (more than 264,000 gallons) of fuel per day.

Marouf called on countries, particularly members of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to develop an “urgent rescue plan” and “find rapid humanitarian solutions that address the plight of more than 250,000 families who have lost their homes.” .

Each of the warring sides accused the other of causing the collapse of the ceasefire by rejecting terms that would extend the daily release of hostages held by armed groups in exchange for Palestinian detainees.

The pause, which began on November 24, had been extended twice and Israel had said it could last as long as Hamas released 10 hostages every day. But after seven days of releasing women, children and foreign hostages, mediators failed at the last minute to find a solution to release more people, including Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Qatar, which has played a central role in mediation efforts along with the United States and Egypt, said negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians to restore the ceasefire were ongoing but that Israel’s renewed bombing of Gaza had complicated its efforts.

Meeting with newly appointed British Foreign Secretary David Cameron on the sidelines of COP28 in Dubai, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said his country was committed to continuing de-escalation efforts.

According to a Qatari Foreign Ministry statement, the two reviewed recent developments in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories as well as ways to implement a permanent ceasefire.

The White House also said it was pushing for the ceasefire to be restored. Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Friday evening that the U.S. wants to release more prisoners and bring more humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

“There was some disappointment that US efforts to extend the ceasefire were not successful, but the other reaction was to simply repeat the Israeli line that the end of the ceasefire came about through Hamas actions,” said Al Jazeera’s Mike Hannah reported from Washington, DC

“Blinken says Israel is acting immediately to ensure the safety of civilians in the conflict areas and to provide them with areas where they can find safe haven. This ignores the fact that Israel, for its part, has ignored the humanitarian notification system,” he added.

Egypt is also working to restore the ceasefire in Gaza as quickly as possible, according to a statement from the Egyptian State Information Service.

Since October 7, more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including more than 6,000 children. In Israel, the official death toll is around 1,200.

Source : www.aljazeera.com

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