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Friday, May 17, 2024

Hamas vows to make Gaza invasion ‘curse’ for Israel

The IDF said earlier on Thursday that it had surrounded Gaza City in the northern part of the enclave

A continued Israeli ground operation in Gaza will have catastrophic consequences for West Jerusalem, Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said on Thursday, according to AFP.

“Gaza will be the curse of history for Israel,” a spokesman for the militant group, Abu Obeida, said in an audio address, the news agency reported. He also told Israel to expect heavy casualties among its forces, adding that more of the Israeli soldiers would “return in black bags.”

Read more: Gaza now a ‘graveyard’ for children – UN agency

So far, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has confirmed the deaths of 17 of its soldiers in the ongoing operation. Earlier on Thursday, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israel’s forces had fully encircled Gaza City in the northern part of the enclave.

“Israeli soldiers have completed the encirclement of the city of Gaza, the center of the Hamas terror organization,” he told journalists. The Israeli military also ruled out the idea of a ceasefire in the near future. “The concept of a ceasefire is not currently on the table at all,” Hagari said when asked about the issue.

West Jerusalem has been facing growing pressure from the UN and humanitarian groups for a ceasefire amid the rising death toll among Gaza civilians and fears of the conflict spreading elsewhere in the Middle East.

Read more: 33 aid trucks entered Gaza on Sunday: UN

Speaking on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden stopped short of calling for a complete cessation of hostilities, urging for a “humanitarian pause” instead.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also claimed this week that Washington is “determined to deter any escalation” in the ongoing conflict.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 8,800 people since October 7, including more than 3,600 children, the UN said on Thursday, citing local health authorities. Some 22,240 people in the Palestinian enclave have been injured, it added.

The international body also condemned an airstrike the IDF launched on Wednesday which targeted the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, arguing that such actions “could amount to war crimes.” Israel insisted that it was targeting “terror infrastructure” built near civilian buildings and was acting “on precise intelligence.”

Hamas said that none of its leaders were present at the Jabalia camp at the time of the strike.