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Focus of Israeli offensive turns to Khan Younis

Nicholas Welsh
December 6, 2023

Khan Younis, once a safe destination for displaced Gazans, is now the focus of Israel's new offensive. Civilians have been left with nowhere safe to go, the UN says. House-to-house fighting in southern Gaza has reportedly intensified during Israeli ground operations.


Survivors sift through the rubble of a destroyed home.

Struck by Israeli missiles in the early hours of the morning. 

(Hamdi Tanira, resident)
"There were 30 people inside the house, 20 of them were children. We don’t know what happened to us. The fire hit and all of it collapsed on top of us. None of us made it out completely okay. Everybody is hurt."

The United Nations says almost 1.9 million Gazans have fled their homes since the war began. Many wound up here in Khan Younis.

Now, Gaza's second-largest city is a battleground. Israel says it is operating against Hamas strongholds in the south, and both sides report that the fighting is fierce — leaving civilians with nowhere to go. 

(Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres)
"All my senior colleagues have been very clear, including the Secretary-General, saying there is no, there are no safe places in Gaza."

Speaking to DW News, the Israel Defense Forces explained why they fire on safe zones.

(Jonathan Conricus, IDF Spokesperson) 
"Now if Hamas uses what has previously been defined as a safe zone in order to fight and to fire rockets or missiles at Israeli civilians, or to conduct combat activities towards our troops from that area, then there may be a case where we will retaliate fire, but that is a very, an extremely small percentage."

The main hospital in Khan Younis is overwhelmed. The UN says delivering vital aid supplies is impossible amid the fighting. 

And still, the injured keep coming. 

As do the bodies. 

The devastation in Khan Younis has left many Palestinians with a sense that the world has abandoned them.

(Amal Mahdi, resident) 
"We need someone to stand by our side. We need someone to find us a solution. We are devastated." 

But despite a brief ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the renewed fighting is as intense as ever.