Israel-Hamas war live updates: Nearly 300,000 Gazans flee Rafah, UN

Jabalia, in northern Gaza, in…Mahmoud Isa/Associated Press

The Israeli military ordered the evacuation of Jabalia in northern Gaza on Saturday as it stepped up attacks there as, it said in a statement, Hamas “attempts to regroup its terrorist structures and operatives in the area.” has been.”

Israel attacked northern Gaza for the first time since a Hamas-led offensive on October 7, seizing territory and pushing south, seizing Hamas strongholds. But the army has yet to decisively defeat Hamas, many analysts say, and its return to Jablia was another sign that the war may be on the way.

The Israeli military has said it has successfully killed several key Hamas commanders in Jabalia, which it considers a Hamas stronghold and base of operations. However, in recent weeks, Israeli forces have repeatedly returned to the area – including Gaza City's Zaytoun neighborhood and Beit Hanoun – arguing that militants have become active there again. The Israeli military said five soldiers were killed in northern Gaza on Friday, at least four of them by an explosive device.

On Saturday, hours after urging people to evacuate, the Israeli military said it had launched an “attack on Hamas terrorist positions” in the Jabalia region.

In a statement, Hamas accused Israel of “escalating its aggression against civilians throughout Gaza” and vowed to continue fighting.

Israeli military analysts attribute the apparent resurgence of Hamas in northern Gaza to Israel's failure to establish an alternative government there, leaving a vacuum that has allowed the insurgency to return. Israeli forces encircle the areas, but when they inevitably retreat, Hamas reasserts control directly or through allies, said Michael Milstein, a former senior Israeli intelligence official.

He said that Hamas is still ruling. “Their forces are badly damaged, but they still have capabilities. There is still no alternative to them in Gaza and every alternative we have tried to establish has failed.

For months, Israel's military has claimed to have “destroyed” most of Hamas' military battalions. But Israeli leaders have also acknowledged that their forces will have to engage in a protracted campaign to eliminate what Israeli Defense Minister Yves Galant has called “pockets of resistance.”

In late March, Israeli forces attacked al-Shafa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical complex, for a second time, claiming it had become a base for Hamas' attempt to re-establish its rule in northern Gaza. According to the Israeli army, at least 200 were killed and hundreds arrested.

The fighting destroyed much of the hospital, and Palestinians returning to the complex said many bodies were scattered in and around it.

It was unclear how many people followed Israel's warnings to leave Jabalia. Fatima Adamah, a 36-year-old resident, has just left. He said on Saturday that he hoped the latest fighting would be limited enough to allow him to stay safe.

“Our lives have already ended in 2006,” when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections, prompting Israel to tighten restrictions on Gaza, he said, adding: “For us to go “There is no safe place. Besides, most of our people are old or sick. Where can we take them?”

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