Israel said its troops moved into “the heart” of Khan Younis, the second largest city in Gaza, on Tuesday, marking “the most intense day” of battles since the ground invasion started more than five weeks ago.
The move into the south risks making the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza worse, alongside possibly displacing more Palestinians amidst the conflict, The Associated Press reported.
The United Nations said more than 80 percent of Gaza’s population, or 1.87 million people, have been pushed from their homes, according to the AP. The organization warned fighting is hindering the distribution of necessities, such as food, water and medicine, outside of a small portion of the southern part of the territory.
Fighting has only grown more intense in Gaza, including the region where Palestinian civilians were told to move to find safety.
In Deir al-Balah, a town north of Khan Younis, a strike destroyed a house in which many of those displaced from the war in the north were housed. Thirty-four people were killed, with at least six of them being children, per an AP reporter at a hospital who counted bodies.
Israel’s retaliation in Gaza for the surprise attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 has killed more than 16,200 people and wounded more than 42,000, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry says since a recent truce between Israel and Hamas ended last Friday, hundreds have been killed and wounded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his military would have to keep continual security control over Gaza for a lengthy amount of time after the current conflict, the AP reported. He added that only Israel’s military can make sure the territory will stay demilitarized.
“No international force can be responsible for this,” Netanyahu said at a news conference, per the AP. “I’m not ready to close my eyes and accept any other arrangement.”
The Associated Press contributed.