Israel said its forces have attacked Hamas gunmen inside the militant group’s vast tunnel network beneath Gaza as fighting shows no sign of stopping.
After the first successful rescue of a hostage held by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire and vowed to crush the group’s ability to govern Gaza.
Hamas has so far released four civilians from the 240 hostages Israel says it captured during the militant group’s attack on 7 October – with many thought to be held in the tunnel network.
Amid fears of a widening conflict, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militant group has claimed it launched a “large number” of ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel in what it described as its third attack on the country.
A spokesperson for the group warned there are “more to come”.
As Israel’s Gaza offensive continues, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Israel Security Authority (ISA) claimed to have killed a Hamas commander who directed the attack on their country.
In a statement shared on Telegram, the two agencies said the militant was Nasim Abu Ajina, the commander of Hamas’s Beit Lahia Battalion.
Meanwhile, Gaza faces an “imminent public health catastrophe” as the area struggles with mass displacement and damage to water infrastructure, the World Health Organisation warned on Tuesday.
In other key developments:
• A British teacher trapped in Gaza was told by the UK Foreign Office it ‘can’t do anything more’;
• Israeli officials appear to be rowing back on their promise not to grant entry visas to UN representatives;
• Sir Keir Starmer says a ceasefire could leave Hamas ’emboldened’;
• More than 420 children are being killed or injured in Gaza each day, UNICEF has said.
The IDF also said it has struck about 300 targets over the past day “including anti-tank missiles and rocket launch posts below shafts” as well as military compounds underground.
Hamas said militants clashed early on Tuesday with Israeli forces “invading the southern Gaza axis, (including) with machine guns”.
A Sky News producer in Gaza said bombing continued in the north and west of Gaza City overnight, with different parts of a refugee camp also hit.
According to calls received by the producer, the situation in Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City, is “getting worse and worse” while heavy bombing was reported around al Quds hospital in Tel al Hawa, in the south of the city.
An ongoing fuel shortage is also forcing people to use donkey carts, they added, to take injured people to hospital and even dead bodies to graveyards.
Bakeries are also struggling to produce enough bread, the producer said, and are unable to cope with the demand.
Ceasefire ‘matter of life or death’
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, says nearly 672,000 Palestinians are sheltering in its schools and other facilities, which is four times their capacity.
UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini accused Israel of “collective punishment”, and of forcing the Palestinians’ displacement from northern Gaza to the south, where they are still not safe.
At a UN emergency meeting on Monday, he also warned “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire has become a matter of life and death for millions”.
The agency added 64 of its staff have been killed since the war began, including a man killed with his wife and eight children late on Monday.
“This is the highest number ever of UN aid workers killed in any conflict around the world in such a short time,” spokesperson Juliette Touma said.
“UNRWA will never be the same without these colleagues.”
At least 8,525 Palestinians, including 3,542 children, have been killed in Israeli strikes since the war began, the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza said on Tuesday.
The health ministry spokesman, Ashraf al Qudra, also claims 130 healthcare staff have been killed, with 15 hospitals now out of service along with 32 healthcare centres.
Read more on this story:
Nowhere to hide in Gaza as bombing campaign splits area
Families of hostages say they are ‘constantly thinking’ about them
Few trust Netanyahu in Israel and he will struggle to convince West
Meanwhile, air raid sirens sounded in the Red Sea city of Eilat on Tuesday and Israel’s military said it downed an incoming “aerial target”.
Later on Tuesday, the military said it used the “Arrow” aerial defence system for the first time since the war to intercept a surface-to-surface missile in the Red Sea fired towards its territory.
“There was no threat or risk to civilians,” it said earlier in the day.
More than 1,400 people have been killed on the Israeli side, according to the country’s government, since Hamas’s initial attack.