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Israel-Palestine war: Fighting intensifies across Gaza as tensions on Lebanon border rise

Jabalia refugee camp pummelled and tanks move into centre of Khan Younis, while Israeli forces exchange fire with Hezbollah
Chickens walk on top of rubble, at the site of Israeli strikes on houses, amid Israeli bombing in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on 10 December (AFP)

Israel pummelled the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Gaza on Sunday, killing at least 57 people, as heavy fighting in Khan Younis intensified.

The Palestinian death toll reached 18,000 people.

Israel pressed on with its gradual advance into Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, with heavy fighting reported in the city.

Residents said Israeli tanks reached as far as the centre of Khan Younis, which Israel once designated as a "safe" area for Palestinians to flee to.

With more than 85 percent of Gaza's population of 2.3 million displaced by Israel's relentless bombing campaign, UN agencies say there is no safe place to flee to in the entire strip.

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Israel said its Artillery Corps started operating inside the Gaza Strip for the first time since the beginning of its ground incursion.

Hamas, meanwhile, said its fighters were able to target several Israeli tanks in both northern Gaza and Khan Younis.

The group also released footage showing an Israeli tank being targeted in Tal al-Zaatar, in northern Gaza, as clashes raged throughout the enclave.

In a newly launched website, the Israeli army said 425 of its soldiers have been killed since 7 October, 97 of them since the beginning of the ground invasion. The website said 1,593 soldiers have been wounded since the start of the war, a day after Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper put the number at 5,000, quoting health officials.

Tensions in southern Lebanon

The Lebanese-Israeli border also saw repeated exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Israel said six of its soldiers were wounded in a drone attack by Hezbollah on its bases in western Galilee.

The Israeli army heavily bombed the outskirts of Lebanese towns near the border and destroyed a home in Aytaroun.

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The increased tensions come as Israel's national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said his country "can no longer accept" the presence of Hezbollah's forces along the border with Lebanon.

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"The Israeli public...  understand that the situation in the north needs to change," he said in an interview with Israel's Channel 12 News.

"And it will change. If Hezbollah agrees to change it diplomatically, that's good. If not - we will have to act. We will have to ensure that the situation in the north is different."

Doha Forum

Meanwhile, several Arab officials spoke of the situation in Gaza at the Doha Forum conference held in Qatar.

Most notably, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the US must be held accountable for giving "the greenest of green lights" to Israel's attacks in Gaza.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned that Israel is trying to "empty Gaza of its people".

"Israel challenges the world, violates international law, and commits war crimes," he said.

At the conference, Qatar ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani awarded the commissioner-general of the UN relief agency Unrwa, Philippe Lazzarini, with the Doha Forum Award for the agency's work in Gaza.

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