Gaza conflict intensifies as efforts continue towards ceasefire agreement

Israeli warplanes and artillery struck central Gaza on Thursday, the military said, as efforts continued to reach a new agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

“Fighter jets attacked armed terrorists, terrorist infrastructure and an operational tunnel shaft,” the Israeli Air Force (IAF) said on Telegram. “IDF continues to operate in the central Gaza Strip,” it added.

The Israel Defense Forces said it launched the attack after firing “several fires” against Israeli forces from central Gaza on Wednesday. The military said a mortar shell launcher was destroyed and several armed fighters were killed. No one on the Israeli side was reported injured.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke by phone with US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin to discuss “operational developments” in northern and southern Israel, Gallant said. The two leaders also discussed efforts to free more hostages held by Hamas.

Austin also provided information on preparations for future Gaza operations. Israel has announced it will press ahead with a controversial military operation in the southern coastal city of Rafah unless there is an early agreement on a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Also on the agenda were humanitarian aid for people suffering in the Gaza Strip and further border openings. Aid deliveries have increased significantly recently, but the United States is demanding further increases.

Palestinians returned to their destroyed homelands after Israeli forces withdrew from neighboring Austria during heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas. Abed Rahim Khatib/DPA

Palestinians returned to their destroyed homelands after Israeli forces withdrew from neighboring Austria during heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas. Abed Rahim Khatib/DPA

A Palestinian boy searches inside a destroyed home after Israeli troops withdrew from an Austrian neighborhood during heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas. Abed Rahim Khatib/DPAA Palestinian boy searches inside his destroyed home after Israeli troops withdrew from an Austrian neighborhood during heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas. Abed Rahim Khatib/DPA

A Palestinian boy searches inside a destroyed home after Israeli troops withdrew from an Austrian neighborhood during heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas. Abed Rahim Khatib/DPA

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