Israel pushes further into northern Gaza, new cracks in Netanyahu coalition

AFP

Israeli troops and tanks pushed on Saturday into parts of a congested northern Gaza Strip district that they had previously skirted in the more than seven-month-old war, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, medics and residents said.

Israel's forces also took over some ground in Rafah, a southern city by the Egyptian border that is packed with displaced people and where the launch this month of a long-threatened incursion to crush hold-outs of Hamas has alarmed Cairo and Washington.

Exposing further cracks in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, Benny Gantz, a centrist member of the war cabinet, threatened to resign if the right-wing leader does not agree by June 8 to a day-after plan that would include how Gaza might be ruled after the war with Hamas.

In what Israeli media said was the result of intelligence gleaned during the latest incursions, the military announced the recovery of the body of a man who was among more than 250 hostages seized by Hamas in a cross-border rampage on October 7 that triggered the war.

Ron Binyamin's remains were located along with those of three other slain hostages whose repatriation was announced on Friday, the military said without providing further details.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas.

Israel has conducted renewed military sweeps this month of parts of northern Gaza where it had declared the end of major operations in January. At the time, it also predicted its forces would return to prevent a regrouping by the group that rules Gaza.

One site has been Jabalia, the largest of Gaza's eight historic refugee camps. On Saturday, troops and tanks edged into streets so far spared the ground offensive, residents said. In one strike, medics said 15 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded.

The Gaza health ministry and the Civil Emergency Service said teams received dozens of calls about possible casualties but were unable to carry out any searches because of the ongoing ground offensive and aerial bombardment.

The Israeli military said its forces have continued to operate in areas across Gaza including Jabalia and Rafah, carrying out what it called "precise operations against terrorists and infrastructure".

"The IAF (air force) continues to operate in the Gaza Strip, and struck over 70 terror targets during the past day, including weapons storage facilities, military infrastructure sites....and military compounds," the military said in a statement.

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