Israel bombs Gaza in 'heaviest shelling in weeks' as UN condemns civilian deaths

Israel bombs Gaza in 'heaviest shelling in weeks' as UN condemns civilian deaths

Israel bombarded northern Gaza overnight in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks.

The country’s forces bombed neighbourhoods in an area where the Israeli army had previously withdrawn troops, residents said.

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 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 officials said strikes had hit a mosque, injuring several people, and a crowd gathering on the coastal road to collect aid dropped from the air. Reuters could not immediately confirm those targets.

Tanks also made a new incursion east of Beit Hanoun on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip.

Um Mohammad, 53, a mother-of-six living 700 metres from Zeitoun told Reuters: "It was one of those nights of horror that we have lived in at the start of the war.

“The bombing from tanks and planes didn't stop. I had to gather with my children and my sisters who came to shelter with me in one place and pray for our lives as the house kept shaking. I don't know if we will make it alive before this war stops.”

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

"Over the past day, IAF fighter jets and additional aircraft struck approximately 25 terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including military infrastructure, observation posts, terrorists, launch posts," it said in a statement

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

Israel's military strikes killed 32 Palestinians and wounded 59 others in the past 24 hours, Palestinian health authorities said.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, a group allied to Hamas, claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks on Sderot and Nir Am, indicating fighters were still able to launch them almost 200 days into the war, which has flattened large swathes of the enclave and displaced almost all of its 2.3 million people.

Meanwhile UN human rights chief Volker Turk on Tuesday condemned the recent strikes on Gaza, saying they had killed mainly women and children.

He also reiterated a warning to Israel not to follow through on its planned assault on Rafah in the south as this could lead to "further atrocity crimes".

Israel claims Rafah, on the border with Egypt and where more than a million displaced civilians are sheltering, is the last bastion of several Hamas battalions.

The country has pledged to wipe out Hamas, which controls the enclave, following an attack by the militant group on October 7, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages.

The Palestine run health authorities say that more than 34,000 people have been confirmed killed in the seven-month conflict.