Israel hammers Gaza’s south, hostage families urge Netanyahu to seek deal

GAZA STRIP: The Israeli army bombarded Khan Younis, the latest epicentre of the war in Gaza, on Monday (Jan 22) after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected what he said were Hamas conditions for the release of hostages, even amid mounting pressure from their families.

Witnesses reported deadly strikes overnight in Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, and fierce fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reported on Monday that more than 120 people had been killed in the previous 24 hours.

“Artillery shelling has not stopped since 5am,” said Yunis Abdel Razek, 52, who was sheltering with his family at the city’s Al-Aqsa University.

“We can’t leave the university … it’s dangerous and I fear for the little ones,” he said. “They said the Al-Mawasi area was safe but they lied,” he added, referring to a coastal strip west of Khan Younis.

Mahdi Antar, 21, meanwhile said he feared forces would “storm” Al-Nasr Hospital where he was sheltering with his family.

While fighting is concentrated in the south it has not ended in the north, where Hamas authorities reported shelling in the Gaza City area and witnesses heard explosions.

The strikes came after Hamas on Sunday issued a 16-page report in which they admitted to “some faults” but defended the Oct 7 attacks that sparked the war.

The attacks resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas, launching a relentless offensive that has killed at least 25,295 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the latest toll issued Monday by Gaza’s health ministry.

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