Israel carried out airstrikes on the main city of southern Gaza on Monday in response to a hostage threat issued by Hamas. The militant group had warned that no Israeli hostages in Gaza would survive unless their demands for prisoner releases were met.
Israeli strikes targeted the city of Khan Yunis, with reports indicating additional strikes on a house where Israeli soldiers were searching for a tunnel shaft, as confirmed by Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad.
On Sunday, Hamas explicitly stated that Israel would not see the return of their prisoners without engaging in negotiations and meeting the resistance's demands. Israel claims there are still 137 hostages in Gaza, while activists argue that around 7,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails.
The recent war started when Hamas launched an attack on Israel on October 7, resulting in casualties and the return of hostages to Gaza. In response, Israel initiated a military offensive that has left much of Gaza in ruins, claiming the lives of at least 18,000 people, predominantly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Earlier this month, the Israeli military ordered the evacuation of Palestinians from southern Gaza as the bombardment persisted. This leaves those in Gaza with limited options, given the continuous attacks since October 7, particularly in the northern regions.
How many people were displaced from the north to the south?
More than one million Palestinians have been forced to flee from northern Gaza since October 13 following the Israeli military's directive to evacuate within a 24-hour timeframe.
According to the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA, approximately 958,000 displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in 99 UNRWA shelters located in the central and southern regions of Gaza. Of these, 70 shelters are situated in the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Younis.
An additional 191,000 individuals were estimated to be residing in informal collective shelters, including 124 public schools, hospitals, wedding halls, offices, and community centres. The remaining displaced population found accommodation with host families, as reported by OCHA.
OCHA highlighted concerns over the overcrowded conditions and poor sanitation in UNRWA shelters, leading to outbreaks of infections and diseases such as Hepatitis A.