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    Heavy Fighting in Gaza Halts Most Aid Delivery and Leaves Civilians with Few Places to Seek Safety

    Heavy Fighting in Gaza Halts Most Aid Delivery and Leaves Civilians with Few Places to Seek Safety

    DEIR AL-BALAH, Strip — Israeli forces battled Hamas militants across Gaza on Wednesday after expanding their ground offensive to its second-largest , further shrinking the area where Palestinians can seek safety and halting the distribution of vital aid across most of the territory.

    The assault on the south threatens further mass displacement within the besieged coastal enclave, where the U.N. says some 1.87 million people — over 80% of the population — have already fled their homes.

    Much of the north, including large parts of Gaza City, has been completely destroyed, and Palestinians fear the rest of Gaza could suffer a similar fate as tries to dismantle Hamas, which has deep roots in the territory it has ruled for 16 years.

    Israel says it can no longer accept a Hamas presence in Gaza after the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will maintain open-ended security control over the territory, something opposed by the United States and much of the international community.

    The Israeli military said Tuesday that its troops were “in the heart” of the southern city of Khan Younis after what it described as “the most intense day” of fighting since the start of the ground operation five weeks ago, with heavy battles in the north as well.

    Pushed to the edge

    For the past three days, aid distribution — mainly just supplies of flour and…

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