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Hundreds more Palestinians killed as Israel bombs southern Gaza

HUNDREDS more Palestinians were killed today as Israel rained bombs on southern Gaza.

The Palestinian death toll from the war climbed above 15,500 as Israel ordered residents of Gaza’s second city, Khan Younis, to flee south, naming Rafah as its recommended destination — though its war planes were bombing Rafah today too.

The United Nations estimated that Palestinians had been ordered out of land making up a quarter of the entire Gaza Strip even before the latest evacuation orders for Khan Younis.

Nearly a million Palestinians (958,000) are now in UN shelters in southern Gaza, having been forced to flee their homes.

But officials said fewer Palestinians were heeding orders to leave now, as Israel attacks the areas it had previously recommended people flee to. Mother-of-four Halima Abdel-Rahman told reporters she was staying put near Khan Younis, having previously fled north Gaza.

“The occupation tells you ‘go to this area,’ then they bomb it,” she explained. “The reality is that no place is safe in Gaza. They kill people in the north. They kill people in the south.”

A medic at al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City said at least 15 children were killed in local air strikes. In the road outside the hospital, Saeed Khalid Shehta wept by the body of his dead little brother.

Though British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for “sustained humanitarian pauses” when Israel ended a ceasefire with Hamas on Friday and resumed its invasion, hopes of further truces seemed slim. 

Hamas said it would not discuss further exchanges of hostages — taken during its deadly October 7 attack on Israel, which killed 1,200 people — for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails unless Israel stopped its bombardment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We will continue the war until we achieve all its goals.”

However, the United States government distanced itself from its ally, with Vice-President Kamala Harris declaring that “too many innocent Palestinians have been killed” and assuring Egypt that Washington would not tolerate any attempt to push Palestinians out of Gaza.

In talks with Arab leaders at Cop28, she also said the US was looking at how to establish Palestinian Authority control of Gaza, something Mr Netanyahu has vowed not to tolerate.

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