Israel vows to press on in Gaza after Iran attack

The army said it will not be distracted from the war after the attack


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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Mon 15 Apr 2024, 11:11 AM

Israel launched dozens of air strikes on Gaza overnight, Hamas said on Monday. The army said it will not be distracted from the war after Iran's unprecedented attack heightened fears of wider conflict.

World powers have urged restraint after Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel, though the Israeli military has said the vast majority were intercepted.

Tehran's first direct assault on Israel, in retaliation for a deadly strike in Damascus earlier this month, followed months of violence across the region involving Iranian proxies who say they act in support of Palestinians in the war-battered Gaza Strip.

"Even while under attack from Iran, we have not lost sight, not for one moment, of our critical mission in Gaza to rescue our hostages from the hands of Iran's proxy Hamas," Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said late Sunday.

As mediators eye a deal to halt the fighting, triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack, fears grew over Israeli plans to send troops into Rafah, a far-southern city where the majority of Gaza's 2.4 million people have taken refuge.

The army said it was "calling up approximately two reserve brigades for operational activities on the Gazan front", about a week after withdrawing most ground troops from the territory.

The Hamas government media office said Israeli aircraft launched "dozens" of strikes overnight on central Gaza.

Rumours of a reopened Israeli checkpoint on the coastal road from the besieged territory's south to Gaza City send thousands of Palestinians heading north on Sunday, despite Israel denying it was open.

Hoping to reunite with his wife who has been in the southern city of Khan Yunis, Palestinian man Mahmoud Awdeh said, "she told me over the phone that people are leaving... she's waiting at the checkpoint until the army agrees to let her head to the north".

The Israeli army however told AFP that reports the route was open were "not true".

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Sunday following the Iranian attack, where Israel pressed for new sanctions against Tehran and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the region was "on the brink" of war.

"Neither the region nor the world can afford more war," the UN chief said.

"Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate," he added.


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