Tel Aviv [Israel], December 4: Israeli forces bombed wide areas of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, as civilians in the besieged territory sought shelter in an ever-shrinking area of the south.
The Hamas Palestinian militant group said its fighters clashed with Israeli troops about 2 km (1 mile) from the southern city of Khan Younis. Residents, many of whom had moved there to flee earlier attacks, said they could hear tank fire and feared a new Israeli ground offensive was building.
The Israeli military earlier ordered people to evacuate some areas in and near the city, but made no announcement of any new southern ground assault.
Fuelling fears the conflict could spread to destabilise the region, Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi movement said it attacked two Israeli ships in the Red Sea with an armed drone and a missile on Sunday, in a move to stand with the Palestinians.
The Pentagon also said it was aware of reports of an attack on an American warship, the USS Carney, without going into detail. There was no independent confirmation from Israel or the U.S. of the attacks or what damage they caused, if any.
The Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Hamas-ruled Gaza was among the sites reported hit from the air. A Gazan health ministry spokesperson said several people were killed by an Israeli air strike.
Footage obtained by Reuters showed a boy covered in grey dust, sitting weeping amid crumbled cement and rubble from collapsed buildings.
"My father was martyred," he cried in a hoarse voice. A girl in a pink sweatshirt, also coated with dust, stood between piles of rubble.
Bombardments from war planes and artillery were also concentrated on Khan Younis and Rafah, another city in Gaza's south, residents said, and hospitals were struggling to cope with the flow of wounded.
Israel's government spokesperson, Eylon Levy, said the military had struck more than 400 targets over the weekend "including extensive aerial attacks in the Khan Younis area" and had also killed Hamas militants and destroyed their infrastructure" in Beit Lahiya in the north.
There was no immediate comment on the reports of specific attacks.
The renewed warfare followed the end on Friday of a seven-day pause in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants which had allowed an exchange of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.
The violence took place despite calls from the United States - Israel's closest ally - for Israel to limit harm to Palestinian civilians in the new phase of its offensive, focused on the south.
More than 15,523 people have been killed, according to Gaza's health ministry, in nearly two months of warfare that broke out after a Hamas cross-border raid on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 240 taken hostage.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas. The Iranian-backed group is sworn to Israel's destruction. The initial Hamas attack and the ensuing war amount to the bloodiest episode in the decades-old wider Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Source: Fijian Broadcasting Cooperation