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Orders for new evacuations as strikes in Gaza intensify

Israeli strikes intensified across Gaza today in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks, residents said, and the army ordered fresh evacuations in the north of the enclave, warning civilians they were in a “dangerous combat zone”.

Strikes by air and shelling from tanks on the ground were also reported in central and southern areas of the Gaza Strip in what residents said were almost 24 hours of non-stop bombardments.

In a post on social media platform X, Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee urged residents of four zones in Beit Lahiya on Gaza’s northern edge to move to two designated areas.

He said the military “will work with extreme force against terrorist infrastructure and subversive elements” in the region.

In a statement issued, the military said it “follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.”

The renewed shelling and bombing of northern Gaza comes almost four months after the Israeli army announced it was drawing down troops there, saying Hamas no longer controlled those areas.

This month, Israel also drew down most of its forces in southern Gaza. However, efforts to reach a ceasefire have failed, and Israeli bombardment and raids on territory where its troops have withdrawn are making it difficult for displaced Gazans to return to abandoned homes.

This bombardment came after incoming rocket alerts sounded in two southern Israeli border towns, although no casualties were reported.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, a group allied to Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attacks on Sderot and Nir Am, indicating fighters were still able to launch rockets almost 200 days into the war, which has flattened large swathes of the enclave and displaced almost all its 2.3 million people.

Hamas said Israel had achieved only “humiliation and defeat” with its offensive.

Speaking in a video aired by Al Jazeera television, Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing, called for an escalation in conflict across all fronts and praised Iran for its first direct attack against Israel earlier this month.

He also said Hamas was sticking to its demands in ceasefire talks for Israel to permanently end its war, pull all its troops from Gaza and allow the displaced to return to the north.

Israel has resisted a permanent ceasefire, saying that would only allow Hamas to regroup.

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