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Israel aims fire at southern Gaza as world leaders seek pause in fighting

GAZA/JERUSALEM: Israel intensified its overnight bombing of southern Gaza, where officials said record numbers of Palestinians had been killed again, as violence flared elsewhere in the region and a showdown loomed at the UN on Wednesday (Oct 25) over desperately needed aid.

Health officials in the Hamas-run enclave said many of those killed were in the south, where hundreds of thousands fled after Israel warned them it would attack the north to wipe out Hamas after its killing spree in Israel on Oct 7.

The Palestinian death toll now exceeds 6,500, they said.

One strike brought down several apartment buildings in Khan Younis. “This is something not normal, we have not heard something like this before,” said Khader Abu Odah, one of many stunned residents waiting for an excavator to lift rubble so they could look for survivors.

Palestinian anger over the killings has been increased by a sense of betrayal as many of those who obeyed the order to move south are also being killed. The Israeli military says that Hamas, which rules Gaza, has entrenched itself among the civilian population everywhere.

Israel said strikes on Gaza over the previous 24 hours had eliminated Hamas operatives including the head of the Hamas battalion for southern Khan Younis, Tayseer Bebasher.

Tunnel shafts, command centres, weapons caches and launch positions were targeted, as well as a cell of Hamas divers trying to enter Israel by sea near Kibbutz Zikim, it said. 

In Gaza City in the north, rescue workers pulled an apparently lifeless young child out of rubble before trying to calm an agitated, partially buried man crying out his family’s names.

“They are OK, I swear,” one rescuer said in video footage from the scene.

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