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Palestinians flee Khan Younis as Israeli forces strike south Gaza

Palestinians have been fleeing districts to the east of Gaza’s second city of Khan Younis after Israel issued evacuation orders.

Overnight and into the morning, witnesses reported multiple Israeli strikes in and around Khan Younis. A medical source and the Palestinian Red Crescent said eight people had been killed and more than 30 wounded.

Patients and medical staff have also been leaving the European Gaza hospital in the area, as the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza told them to evacuate.

The Israeli military has not itself issued an evacuation order for the hospital.

The Red Cross is reported to have helped patients in the process of transferring to another hospital.

Louise Wateridge, an official with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) in Gaza, asked where people could go as they were forced to leave their homes once again.

“In this area, people were already forced to survive in severely damaged, destroyed, structurally unsafe buildings after the Rafah military operation,” she said.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement on its latest operation in Gaza, saying it was responding to some 20 projectiles that were launched from the area of Khan Yunis towards Israel on Monday.

“Overnight, the IDF struck terror targets in the area from which the projectiles were fired, including a weapons storage facility, operational centres and additional terrorist infrastructure sites,” it continued.

The IDF said Hamas was continuing to “systematically violate international law while using civilian infrastructure and the civilian population as human shields”.

The armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it had carried out the attack on Monday, the biggest barrage launched into Israel from Gaza for months.

Much of Khan Younis was destroyed in a sustained Israeli offensive against Hamas earlier this year.

The city to which some of its residents subsequently returned is almost unrecognizable. Nevertheless, many moved back to take refuge from Israel’s offensive in Rafah.

Now, once again, many are on the move, fearing a major new assault.

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