Israel military strikes northern Gaza in heaviest shelling in weeks


Israel bombarded northern Gaza overnight in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks, causing panic amongst residents and flattening neighbourhoods in an area from which the Israeli army had previously down its troops, residents said on Tuesday.

Army tanks made a new incursion east of Beit Hanoun on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip, though they did not penetrate far into the city, residents and Hamas media said. Gunfire reached some schools where displaced residents were sheltering.

In Israel, where government offices and businesses were shut to celebrate the Passover holiday, incoming rocket alerts sounded in southern border towns, although no casualties were reported.

Thick black smoke could be seen rising in northern Gaza from across the southern Israeli border. Shelling was intense east of Beit Hanoun and Jabalia and continued on Tuesday morning in areas such as Zeitoun, one of Gaza City's oldest suburbs, with residents reporting at least 10 strikes in a matter of seconds along the main road.

Just west of Beit Hanoun in Beit Lahiya, medics and Hamas media said strikes had hit a mosque and a crowd gathering on the coastal road to collect aid dropped from the air. Reuters could not immediately confirm those targets.

The Israeli army said rockets launched overnight into Israel had come from firing positions in northern Gaza. It had struck rocket launchers and killed several militants overnight, in what it called "targeted and precise" strikes.

The renewed shelling and bombing of northern Gaza comes almost four months after the Israeli army announced it was drawing down its troops there, saying Hamas no longer controlled those areas.

This month, Israel also drew down most of its forces in southern Gaza. But efforts to reach a ceasefire have failed, and Israeli bombardment and raids on territory where its troops have withdrawn are making it difficult for displaced Gazans to return to abandoned homes. Israel also struck Khan Younis in the south on Tuesday, a day after tanks raided eastern parts of that city.

Israel says it is seeking to eradicate Hamas, which controls the enclave, following an attack by the militant group on October 7, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages by Israeli tallies.

Across the Gaza Strip, Israel's military strikes killed 32 Palestinians and wounded 59 others in the past 24 hours, Palestinian health authorities said. They say more than 34,000 people have been confirmed killed in the seven-month war, with thousands more bodies as yet unrecovered.

More from International news