PPalestinians who returned to the city of Khan Yunis after the Israeli army withdrew found a landscape of rubble. Months of fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants have devastated large parts of the city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Christian Meier

Political correspondent for the Middle East and Northeast Africa.

According to one estimate, about 45,000 buildings are destroyed or damaged, or more than half. Some of the returnees told the media that they had not been able to find their homes at first because the destruction was so massive. According to Palestinian reports, nearly 90 bodies have been recovered since Sunday.

The army moved into Khan Yunis at the beginning of December, where they suspected the Hamas leadership and hostages were. Efforts to locate her were unsuccessful. However, according to Israeli sources, Hamas units were defeated. On Sunday, the army announced that ground troops had been withdrawn.

In the future, smaller associations should carry out targeted operations. According to Palestinian reports, there were attacks in Khan Yunis again on Monday. According to the army, a Hamas fighter who was involved in the terrorist attack on October 7th was killed in an air strike.

Coalition partners had massively criticized the withdrawal of troops

A large part of the approximately 400,000 residents of the second largest city in the Gaza Strip had fled the street fighting, mostly to Rafah in the south. It is estimated that there are more than a million refugees there. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced again that ground troops should also be deployed in Rafah. The date of the offensive has already been set, he said on Monday evening. Netanyahu may have wanted to cushion criticism from coalition partners. They massively criticized the withdrawal from Khan Yunis.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, talks continued on a new agreement between Israel and Hamas that would lead to a ceasefire and the release of more hostages. The Islamists announced on Tuesday morning that the mediators' latest proposal did not meet any of their demands; they would still test him.

In Israel, some observers believe that Hamas wants to delay the negotiations because increasing international pressure on Israel due to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is playing into its hands. Others believe that Netanyahu is also not seriously interested in an agreement because it could disintegrate his coalition.

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