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9 killed in overnight strike in Gaza's Khan Younis, hours after Israel ordered mass evacuation

Israel orders evacuation of Khan Younis
Israel orders evacuation of Gaza's 2nd largest city, stoking fears of new ground offensive 02:06

An Israeli strike has killed at least nine people in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, Palestinian health officials said Tuesday, within a day of Israel ordering parts of the city to evacuate ahead of a likely ground operation.

The overnight strike hit a home near the European Hospital, which is inside the zone that Israel said should be evacuated. Records at Nasser Hospital, where the dead and wounded were taken, show that three children and two women were among those killed. Associated Press reporters at the hospital counted the bodies.

After the initial evacuation orders, the Israeli military said the European Hospital itself was not included, but its director says most patients and medics have already been relocated.

Palestinian militants fired a barrage of around 20 projectiles at Israel from Khan Younis on Monday, without causing any casualties or damage.

Palestinians evacuate Khan Younis on July 2.  CBS/Odai al-Ghoul

Sam Rose, the director of planning at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, said Tuesday that the agency believes some 250,000 people are in the evacuation zone — over 10% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million — including many who have fled earlier fighting, including an offensive earlier in the year that led to widespread devastation in Khan Younis.

Rose said another 50,000 people living just outside the zone may also choose to leave because of their proximity to the fighting. Evacuees have been told to seek refuge in a sprawling tent camp along the coast that is already overcrowded and has few basic services.

Over a million Palestinians fled the southern city of Rafah in May after Israel launched operations there

Israeli forces have repeatedly returned to areas of Gaza where they had previously operated. Palestinians and aid groups say nowhere in the territory feels safe.

Palestinians evacuate Khan Younis on July 2. CBS/Odai al-Ghoul

Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. 

Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,900 people in Gaza, according to the territory's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and basic goods to Gaza, and people there are now totally dependent on aid. 

Israel said Tuesday that it will begin to run a new power line to a major desalination plant in Khan Younis. The plant is a major source of clean water. Israeli officials say that the move could quadruple the amount of water that the plant produces as summer approaches.

UNICEF chief says Gaza crisis is "the most challenging environment for us" 05:27

UNICEF, the U.N. agency running the plant, confirmed an agreement had been reached with Israel. The agency said the plan to deliver power to the plant was "an important milestone," and said it was "very much looking forward to seeing it implemented."

Israeli bombardment has decimated much of the water system in Gaza, and powering this plant is unlikely to solve the territory's water crisis, which has seen many Palestinians lining up for hours on end for a jug of water to be shared among an entire family. Even before the war, desalination plans accounted for only a fraction of the potable water in the strip. The territory's main water source, a coastal aquifer, has been overpumped and almost none of its water is drinkable.

The top U.N. court has concluded there is a "plausible risk of genocide" in Gaza — a charge Israel strongly denies.

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