Israeli Troops Battle Palestinian Militants in Jabaliya Camp
Israeli troops engaged in intense fighting with Palestinian militants in the Jabaliya camp, a densely populated urban refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The ongoing conflict, now in its seventh week, has resulted in a dire humanitarian situation for the residents, who have been without electricity, water, and access to aid for weeks.
The Jabaliya camp, which houses refugees from the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s establishment and their descendants, has become the new front line of the war. Israeli forces have been bombarding the area for weeks, claiming that Hamas fighters have regrouped there and in other eastern districts after being pushed out of much of Gaza City.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesperson, stated that Israeli forces had a “full grasp” on Jabaliya and were beginning to dismantle a Hamas brigade in the area. However, independent verification of the details of the fighting is not possible at this time.
Footage released by the military depicts soldiers and tanks operating in densely populated neighborhoods where almost every building has been damaged or destroyed.
The war, which began with Hamas’ surprise attack into Israel on October 7th, has taken a heavy toll on Palestinian civilians, particularly those in the northern region. Despite repeated calls from Israel to flee south, many Palestinians have remained in the north. Israeli forces cut off the area during their ground invasion last month, trapping tens of thousands of people. Although corridors were later announced for evacuation, an estimated 160,000 people are still in United Nations-run shelters in the north, where services are no longer available. Overall, around 1.7 million Palestinians, or about three-quarters of Gaza’s population, have been displaced from their homes.
The overcrowding in U.N.-run schools and other facilities across southern Gaza, which now serve as shelters, has forced people to sleep on the streets without adequate protection from the winter rains.
Shortages of food, water, and fuel for generators have become widespread across Gaza. The region has been in a blackout since the start of the war when Israel halted fuel imports.
Israel continues to target what it claims are militant sites throughout Gaza, including the southern evacuation zone. However, these strikes often result in the deaths of women and children. Israeli officials have also suggested that they may expand their operations in the southern region soon.
The fighting has also affected hospitals in the area. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the north had sought shelter in hospitals, but as the conflict escalates, these medical facilities have been emptied out and are no longer operational. Medical worker Marwan Abdallah stated that heavy fighting prevented ambulances from bringing wounded people to the Indonesian hospital near Jabaliya. Palestinian officials claimed that an Israeli shell struck the hospital, killing 12 people. However, Israel denied these allegations, stating that its troops had returned fire on militants who targeted them from within the hospital compound.
Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra reported that approximately 200 wounded patients and their companions were evacuated from the hospital to southern Gaza in a rescue operation coordinated by the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, between 400 and 500 wounded individuals remain at the Indonesia Hospital, along with 2,000 displaced Palestinians.
A similar situation unfolded at Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, where there have been conflicting narratives regarding Hamas’ alleged use of civilian infrastructure. Israeli forces entered the hospital after heavy battles outside its gates. Health workers and Hamas have denied the Israeli allegations. Michael Ryan, a senior World Health Organization official, described the hospital situation in Gaza as catastrophic, noting that the primary health care system could be overwhelmed by the expected 5,500 births in the next month.
The death toll in Gaza continues to rise, with over 12,700 Palestinians killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank. Another 4,000 individuals are reported missing. The Israeli side has suffered approximately 1,200 deaths, mainly civilians, during the initial attack by Hamas on October 7th. Israel has also lost 68 soldiers in ground operations.
Negotiations for a hostage release, a temporary ceasefire, and increased humanitarian aid have been ongoing between Israel, the United States, and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas. So far, Hamas has released four hostages, while Israel has rescued one and discovered the bodies of two near Shifa Hospital. Senior Hamas official Izzat Rishq stated that an agreement could be reached in the coming hours, involving the release of captives by Hamas and the release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel. However, previous predictions of a deal have proven premature.
Israel’s three-member war Cabinet met with representatives of the hostage’s families, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasizing that the government considers the release of hostages and the defeat of Hamas equally important. However, this statement has disappointed the families, as the dismantlement of Hamas could take months.
The situation in Gaza remains dire, with catastrophic conditions in hospitals and widespread shortages of essential resources. The conflict shows no signs of abating, and the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen.