Israeli strikes intensify across Gaza as fresh evacuations ordered in north of enclave

Authorities recover a further 35 bodies from one of three mass graves at Nasser Hospital, taking total found to 310 in past week

Israeli strikes intensified across Gaza on Tuesday in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks, residents said, and the army ordered fresh evacuations in the north of the strip, warning civilians they were in a “dangerous combat zone”.

Strikes by air and shelling from tanks on the ground were also reported in central and southern areas in what residents said were almost non-stop bombardments.

In a post on social media platform X, Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee urged residents of four zones in Beit Lahiya on Gaza’s northern edge to move to shelter in two designated areas.

The Israeli army said it was targeting rocket launch sites, after militants fired rockets at Sderot, the closest Israeli city to the Gaza border, setting a warehouse on fire.


Some 60 projectiles have been launched from Gaza at southern Israel in the last two months, indicating the militants have maintained their fighting capability, despite Israel’s military onslaught.

Israel says it is seeking to eradicate Hamas, which controls the enclave, following an attack on Israel by the militant group on October 7th, in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. Palestinian health authorities say more than 34,000 people have been confirmed killed, with thousands more bodies as yet unrecovered.

Tuesday marked the 200th day of the Gaza war as Jews in Israel celebrated the start of the one-week holiday of Passover in sombre mood.

Passover was ushered in on Monday night with the traditional seder night festive meal. Many families placed an empty seat at the table to symbolise the 133 hostages who remain in Hamas captivity. At other seder night gatherings each participant was asked to “adopt” a hostage and say a few words about them.

Many families of the hostages chose to forego the traditional meal altogether. Some 500 members of Kibbutz Be’eri, where 100 members were killed on October 7th, held a collective Passover seder in central Tel Aviv.

In Nasser Hospital, southern Gaza’s main health facility, authorities recovered a further 35 bodies from what they say is one of at least three mass graves found at the site, taking the total found there to 310 in the past week. Palestinians say Israeli troops buried corpses there with bulldozers to cover up crimes.

The Israeli military spokesperson issued a statement on Tuesday saying that bodies near the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis had been exhumed by Israel and checked to make sure they were not the remains of hostages, before being reburied.

The statement followed comments by United Nations commissioner for human rights Volker Türk, who said he was “horrified” by the destruction of the Nasser and Al Shifa medical hospitals in Gaza and reports of mass graves.

Mr Türk, addressing a UN briefing via a spokesperson, also criticised Israeli strikes on Gaza in recent days, which he said killed mostly women and children. He also repeated a warning against a full-scale Israeli invasion of the southern city of Rafah, saying this could lead to “further atrocity crimes”.

The Hizbullah-affiliated Al Mayadeen television station reported on Tuesday that Hamas will not agree to another country replacing Qatar as a mediator for a new ceasefire and hostage release deal.

Qatar, along with Egypt and the US, has played a key role in contacts between Israel and Hamas but Doha recently raised the possibility of ending its role following pressure from Israel and the US, urging more flexibility from Hamas, amid the failure to achieve a breakthrough on a new truce.

On Israel’s northern border, the military said it killed two Hizbullah commanders in two separate strikes in south Lebanon: a senior member of the Iranian-backed group’s air defence unit and a senior member of its elite Radwan strike force. In response Hizbullah launched drones, striking deeper into Israeli territory, aiming at the city of Acre and close to Haifa.

– Additional reporting: Reuters

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem