Israeli tanks fought in the Gaza Strip on December 7. Photo: IDF

The Israeli army sent tanks into the center of Khan Younis, a Hamas stronghold in the southern Gaza Strip, a week after expanding its ground offensive.

Residents in Khan Younis said Israeli tanks appeared on the main road in the city center on December 10 after experiencing intense fighting that lasted all night in the east. Israeli fighter jets are bombing the western area of ​​the city.

Images on social networks showed loud explosions, machine gun fire and thick columns of white smoke rising in many places in Khan Younis.

“It was one of the most terrible nights. The fighting was very fierce. We heard gunshots and explosions continuously for many hours,” said a resident of the city.

Fighting is also becoming intense in the northern Gaza Strip, an area where the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) previously announced that it had “completed most of its tasks.”

On December 10, the IDF announced that it had attacked more than 250 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip within one day, including many weapons depots, communication bases and tunnels. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said dozens of Hamas gunmen have surrendered in recent days and called on the remaining members of the group to do the same. “The conflict continues, but this is the beginning of the end for Hamas,” he declared.

Hamas denied that members of the group had surrendered and said that the force destroyed or damaged 180 IDF combat vehicles after the ceasefire between the two sides ended on December 1.

“We are fighting close combat with the enemy in Lahia, Deir al-Balah, Jabalia, Sheikh Rawdan, al-Zeitun and Khan Younis, causing great damage to the enemy,” Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, speaks.

Mr. Ubaida also affirmed that the IDF would not be able to use force to free the hostages captured by Hamas on October 7, adding that this force will only agree to resume negotiations on hostage exchange if the Israeli side accepts the conditions given by the group.

After weeks of focusing on attacking the northern Gaza Strip, the Israeli army last week sent infantry into the south, with the main target being the city of Khan Younis, the stronghold of Hamas forces in the area. Reuters said the main hospital in Khan Younis is currently overflowing with dead and wounded from fighting, and the hospital’s emergency department also has no space left.

Israel’s offensive campaign has left about 18,000 Gazans dead, 49,500 injured, and thousands missing, according to data from Gaza health authorities. Casualties in the northern Gaza Strip were no longer updated, as hospitals there were closed and ambulances could not reach the area.

The Israeli army said it is making every effort to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip. On December 9, this force issued a notice asking people to leave the Khan Younis center and posted a map on social network X, showing 6 numbered areas in the city where people need to evacuate urgently to avoid casualties. However, accessing this map is difficult because electricity and the Internet are constantly cut off in Gaza.