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Battles intensify in Gaza and Israeli troops approach Rafah

Israeli soldiers faced fighters across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday (15), including in the southern city of Rafah, which was a refuge for civilians, in a resurgence of the more than seven-month war that has killed tens of thousands. of Palestinians.

Antagonism between Israel and the United Nations worsened when the Israeli military sought an explanation for images showing armed men near vehicles belonging to the UN Palestinian relief agency. Separately, the UN said it was investigating an unidentified attack that killed an international official in Gaza earlier in the week.

In recent days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's army has been moving east of Rafah in search of what it says are four Hamas battalions, despite warnings from its ally, the United States, and other countries, to restrain itself to avoid mass civilian casualties.

Since the Hamas attack on October 7, Israel has killed 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities, with 82 dead on Tuesday, the highest single-day death toll in weeks.

Hamas-led gunmen killed about 1,200 people in their initial attack, according to Israeli records, and still hold 128 hostages out of the 252 they captured in their assault.

In the northern Jabalia refugee camp, residents said Israeli tanks had destroyed groups of homes but were facing stiff resistance. “They are bombing houses on top of their inhabitants. We know that many families are trapped inside their homes,” said Abu Jehad.

Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas, said it had killed some soldiers on foot in Jabalia, while the Israeli military said it had eliminated “a large number of terrorists” in the camp.

Israel x UN

Israel said its troops identified fighters at the central logistics complex of the U.N. Palestinian relief agency UNRWA east of Rafah, demanding an explanation. Reuters verified the location of the images released by the Israeli army, but was unable to verify when they were filmed or the identity of the men.

“The UN has become, in part, a terrorist entity, because it cooperates with Hamas and covers it up,” Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, told Army Radio.

UNRWA denied allegations of cooperation with Hamas.

The agency said it was examining the images and would share information when possible. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters the men were there to protect the aid distribution.

“These are false allegations and lies. This is a police force tasked with protecting aid centers against acts of robbery and looting,” Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Separately, the UN said it was investigating an unidentified attack on a car in Rafah earlier in the week that killed its first international team member since October 7, a retired Indian Army officer who was on his way to the European Hospital.

The Israeli military said an initial investigation concluded that the vehicle, whose route it did not know, was hit in an active combat zone and that the case was under review.

Source: CNN Brasil

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