Israel again orders residents to evacuate areas of Gaza City it once said were cleared of Hamas

July 11, 2024
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After the IDF withdrew from Gaza’s City’s eastern Shejaiya neighborhood, some were counting the cost of days of heavy fighting.

“It is completely uninhabitable, even for mice or mustelids, not to mention humans,” Khadija Harara, 70, told an NBC News crew amid the rubble of what was her home. “Everything is destroyed.”

The IDF said it had dismantled eight “terror tunnels” during the roughly two-week mission in Shejaiya area engaged in “close-quarters combat.”

The IDF’s operations in northern Gaza have seen troops return to areas it previously said it had cleared of Hamas fighters.

It said Thursday that its troops were also operating in central and southern Gaza, including in Rafah, the embattled city in southern Gaza that Israel had previously declared a safe zone.

“Unfortunately, this is the very troubling situation that any place we are leaving, after occupying and clearing it, Hamas goes back,” Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, said in a phone interview Thursday. 

But, Michael, who is also a member of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy, said he believed that while it was unlikely the Israeli military would be able to entirely eliminate Hamas’ presence in the enclave, it was possible to end the militant group’s control over Gaza. 

The United States has previously warned that Israel is unlikely to succeed in fully eliminating the militant group’s presence in Gaza and, together with negotiators from Qatar and Egypt, it has been pushing for a truce in the enclave.

Michael said he believed Israel’s intensified operations in Gaza are likely to be at least in part driven by a bid to put pressure on Hamas amid negotiations for a cease-fire deal.

Elsewhere, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN on Wednesday that the U.S. was “cautiously optimistic” that talks were moving in the right direction. He said gaps still remained between the two sides, but that Washington believes they can be narrowed.

During his meeting Wednesday with McGurk, Netanyahu expressed his commitment to the deal “as long as Israel’s red lines are preserved,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

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