Israeli forces batter central, south Gaza as tanks advance in Rafah

With a renewed ceasefire push in the eight-month-old Gaza war stalled, Israel bombarded central and southern areas again on Friday, killing at least 28 Palestinians, and tank forces advanced to the western edges of Rafah.

U.S.-backed Qatari and Egyptian mediators have tried again this week to reconcile clashing demands preventing a halt to the hostilities, a release of Israeli hostages and Palestinians jailed in Israel, and an untrammelled flow of aid into Gaza to alleviate a humanitarian disaster. But sources close to the talks said there were still no signs of a breakthrough.
A month after rumbling into Rafah in what Israel said was an assault to wipe out Hamas’ last intact combat units, tank-led forces have advanced to the southwest fringes of the city that skirts the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, residents said.

They said tanks were stationed in the al-Izba district near the Mediterranean coast while snipers had commandeered some buildings and high ground, trapping people in their homes. They said Israel machinegun fire had made it too dangerous to go out.
Gaza health officials said two Palestinians had been killed and several wounded in western Rafah from tank shelling there. In central Gaza, Palestinians medics said at least 15 people died overnight in Israeli bombardments.
“I think the occupation forces are trying to reach the beach area of Rafah. The raids and the bombing overnight were tactical, they entered under heavy fire and then retreated,” one Palestinian resident told Reuters via a chat app.

In the larger city of Khan Younis just to the north of Rafah, an Israeli airstrike on a house killed eight people and wounded several, including children, medics said.
In north Gaza, three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza City school building that was sheltering displaced families, rescue workers said.
Hamas said on Friday militants in the central city of Deir al-Balah shelled a house where Israeli troops were barricaded, killing some and wounding others. It said helicopters were seen landing to extricate the stricken Israeli unit.