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Israel's Gaza bombardment targets crowded south; map marks evacuation orders

In the first day after Israel resumed its bombardment of Gaza following the breakdown of a weeklong truce with Hamas, the Israeli military said it struck over 400 targets, while international humanitarian groups decried continued violence.

On Saturday, Israel targeted areas in the crowded south of Gaza, while the United States has urged Israeli officials to do more to protect Palestinian civilians as Israel presses on in Gaza in an attempt to eradicate the militant group Hamas.

“We will continue the war until we achieve all its goals, and it’s impossible to achieve those goals without the ground operation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address Saturday night.

Israel's offensive over the last day included more than 50 strikes in the city of Khan Younis and surrounding areas in the southern half of Gaza, the military said on Saturday.

Several houses and buildings were hit. In one strike on a house in the city of Deir al-Balah in south Gaza, at least nine people were killed, including three children, according to the hospital where the bodies were taken.

About 2 million people are crowded in areas of southern Gaza, including hundreds of thousands of people who fled earlier in the war. In the first days after Hamas' attack, Israel told people in Gaza City and other regions in the north to evacuate. Netanyahu said in late October that "not a single civilian" had to die if they went to safe zones in southern Gaza and he accused Hamas of preventing civilians from leaving.

Also on Saturday militant groups in Gaza said they were firing rockets into southern Israel, and Israel's military said sirens were sounding.

At least 200 Palestinians have been killed in the day since fighting resumed, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said.

More than 15,200 Palestinians have been killed since the war broke out nearly two months ago, according to the Gaza Health Ministry in an updated figure on Saturday. About 1,200 Israelis have been killed, mostly civilians during Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

During a Saturday visit to Israel and the West Bank city of Ramallah, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan said his office is serious in moving forward to investigate allegations of war crimes on both sides of the conflict.

“Every actor should be without doubts that they must comply with the law now,” Khan told broadcaster Palestine TV. “And if you don’t comply with the law now, don’t complain later, because we are serious.”

Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa) ORG XMIT: XOB115
Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa) ORG XMIT: XOB115

Developments:

∎ Tens of thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday, where recently released hostages spoke, calling for the remaining hostages held by Hamas to be freed.

∎ A 70-year-old woman held by Hamas was declared dead on Saturday, according to her kibbutz, bringing the total number of known dead among the hostages to eight.

∎ The United Kingdom's defense ministry said Saturday it would conduct unarmed surveillance flights over Israel and Gaza in an effort to locate hostages, saying the safety of British nationals among the hostages is its top priority.

∎ Doctors Without Borders said in a report released Friday that an investigation into a Nov. 18 attack on its convoy evacuating to southern Gaza that killed two people points to "the responsibility of the Israeli army for this attack."

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in the hospital in Khan Younis, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair) ORG XMIT: XOB106
Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in the hospital in Khan Younis, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair) ORG XMIT: XOB106

Kamala Harris criticizes both Hamas and Israel

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris gave remarks in Dubai on Saturday that sharply criticized both Hamas and Israel, saying the Biden administration wants the conflict to end and for both to provide more protection for Palestinians in Gaza.

Harris, in her most extensive public comments to date about the war in Gaza, stressed that Israel had a right to defend itself and to wipe out Hamas, which killed 1,200 people and kidnapped another 240 in its brutal Oct. 7 cross-border attack.

But she said Israel "must do more to protect civilian life." In conversations with Israeli leaders, she and President Biden have stressed that, “The United States is unequivocal; international humanitarian law must be respected. Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating,” Harris said.

Also, she called on Israel and other parties to show more restraint once the conflict is over. “No forcible displacement, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, no reduction in territory, and no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism,” Harris said.

Earlier in the day Saturday, Harris met with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, key mediators in the Israel-Hamas conflict, to discuss the future of people in Gaza after the war.

"She emphasized that these efforts can only succeed if they are pursued in the context of a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people towards a state of their own led by a revitalized Palestinian Authority and have significant support from the international community and the countries of the region," the White House said.

-Josh Meyer

Chances for another cease-fire negotiations appear bleak

A senior Hamas official said Saturday that any future release of hostages wouldn't come while Israel's bombardment of Gaza continues, and Israel negotiators have left the table, further signaling little hope for a renewed truce.

"There are no negotiations now on the truce. There will be no prisoner exchange until the aggression ends and there is a comprehensive and definitive cease-fire,” Hamas deputy leader Saleh Arouri told Al-Jazeera.

Arouri said that the remaining hostages in Gaza are men who served in the military. Israel's defense minister, Yoav Gallant, meanwhile told reporters that Hamas had refused to return two children and 15 women it is holding, violating the cease-fire agreement.

The Israeli prime minister's office also said Saturday that Israel has recalled its negotiators from Qatar, saying they had reached a "dead end" in talks, CNN reported.

UN agencies condemn end of truce

The World Health Organization decried the collapsing health care system in Gaza, saying the territory could not afford to lose any more of its beds and was already overwhelmed with injured.

"We need a ceasefire. A ceasefire that holds," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on social media Friday.

"Today, the Gaza Strip is once again the most dangerous place in the world to be a child," UNICEF said in a statement. "After seven days of respite from horrific violence, fighting has resumed. More children will surely die as a result."

Israel orders evacuations in southern Gaza

Israel's military on Saturday ordered civilians in southern Gaza to evacuate using a map it had published upon the end of the temporary cease-fire.

A day earlier, Israel warned people in Gaza that they should familiarize themselves with the map published online, dividing the territory into regions and hundreds of numbered parcels. It highlighted over two dozen areas that should be evacuated on Saturday.

The orders caused panic and confusion, while some said they were unaware of the map at all. The south of Gaza is packed with about 2 million people, including hundreds of thousands who fled from the north earlier in the war. Palestinians are unable to go back to northern Gaza, or go to neighboring Egypt. They could only move around within a roughly 85-square-mile area.

“There is no place to go,” Emad Hajar told the Associated Press. "They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south."

MAPS SHOW CONFLICT AREAS: Fighting in Gaza resumes as Israeli military forces advance operations

US protester set self on fire outside Atlanta Israeli consulate

A person was in critical condition Friday in the U.S. after lighting themself on fire in an apparent protest outside an office building that houses the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, authorities said.

The protester was being treated for third-degree burns across their body, Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith said at a news briefing Friday afternoon, and a security guard who tried to stop the person suffered burns to his wrist and leg. Authorities did not release the protester’s name, age or gender.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said a Palestinian flag was found at the scene. He added there was no indication the incident was linked to terrorism.

- Minnah Arshad

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israel-Hamas war updates: Israel Gaza bombardment hits crowded south