'Apocalyptic' conditions in south Gaza as Israeli military reports 'intense' fighting

IDF troops are in the southern city of Khan Younis, threatening further mass displacement across Gaza, ITV News Correspondent John Irvine reports

  • An estimated 600,000 people have received evacuation orders, with nearly half of those impacted already forced to leave their homes once, the UN has said.

  • The Israeli Defence Ministry says it hit hundreds of Hamas targets over the past 24 hours.

  • The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 16,000, the Hamas-run health ministry said, with 70% reported to be women and children.

  • At least 130 hostages are still being held by Hamas in the enclave, while the families of the captives hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli forces have expanded their ground offensive into the south of Gaza, further shrinking the area where Palestinians can seek safety and halting the distribution of vital aid.

On Tuesday, the enclave saw “the most intense day” of fighting since the start of the ground operation five weeks ago, the Israeli Defense Force said.

Troops are "in the heart” of the southern city of Khan Younis, threatening further mass displacement across Gaza, where the UN says some 1.87 million - more than 80% of the population - people have fled their homes.

An estimated 600,000 people have received evacuation orders in the south, with nearly half of those impacted already forced to leave their houses once, the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees has said.

But it is unclear where they can go.

One area Israel has said is safe for people to go is the southern coastal town of al-Mawasi, which is half the size of Heathrow Airport, according to Al Jazeera.

The UN says some 1.87 million people - over 80% of the population - have already fled their homes. Credit: AP

Israel's air force struck 250 Hamas targets in Gaza over the past 24 hours as it claims it continued to locate the militant group's weapons, underground shafts, explosives and military infrastructure.

Heavy battles have also continued in the north, where the IDF claims that its soldiers have discovered the largest weapons cache thus far in the Gaza Strip, near a school and clinic.

Footage released by the military showed different types of weapons such as missiles and explosive devices, but Hamas have not claimed the munition.

The IDF claims to have found a Hamas stockpile of weapons, but the militant group is yet to take responsibility. Credit: AP

The IDF also said its troops had “completed the encirclement” of the Jabalia refugee camp in the north, where it claims Hamas militants are hiding out.

“Every time we think things cannot get any more apocalyptic in Gaza, they do,” said Martin Griffiths, the top UN emergency relief official, said.

“People are being ordered to move again, with little to survive on, forced to make one impossible choice after another. Such blatant disregard for basic humanity must stop."

Jabalia was targeted heavily earlier in the conflict, but Israeli forces have continued its offensive on the camp (PHOTO FROM OCTOBER 11) Credit: AP

Aid distribution levels depleting due to fighting, UN says

For the past three days, aid distribution - mainly just supplies of flour and water - has been possible only in and around the border city of Rafah, at Gaza's southern edge, because of fighting and road closures by Israeli forces, the UN's humanitarian aid office said.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders said fuel and medical supplies have reached “critically low levels” at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central town of Deir al-Balah, north of Khan Younis.

“Without electricity, ventilators would cease to function, blood donations would have to stop, the sterilization of surgical instruments would be impossible,” said Marie-Aure Perreaut Revial, the aid group's emergency coordinator in Gaza.

On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Security Council unite in a call for a full humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Mr Guterres said this is the first time he felt compelled to invoke the rarely-used article since taking office in 2017.

The conflict killed more than 16,200 people in Gaza - 70% of them women and children - and wounded more than 42,000, according to the territory's Health Ministry, which released new figures late on Tuesday.

The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but its overall tally aligns with a figure released by the Israeli military this week.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Israel has not changed since the initial October 7 attack, which saw Hamas militants kill around 1,200 people.

It's reported that an estimated 135 hostages remain in Hamas captivity. Credit: AP

Hostages remain in Hamas captivity as families worries mount

More than 100 hostages were released by Hamas during the temporary ceasefire, but an estimated 135 still remain in captivity.

Family members of those still in Gaza held a tense meeting with Netanyahu and the war cabinet on Tuesday in which some of them shouted at cabinet members, accusing them of having no plan to bring back their loved.

In a statement, the IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi said that the military's "top priority is returning all the hostages home".

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