Fighting in Gaza intensifies despite Israel’s promise to scale down war

Fighting in Gaza intensifies despite Israel’s promise to scale down war
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  • Blinken meets Palestinian leaders in Ramallah
  • Parents grieve dead laid out in Rafah morgue
  • No let-up in fighting despite Israeli pledge to scale down war

GAZA/RAMALLAH/DOHA, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Israeli strikes in southern and central Gaza intensified on Wednesday despite a pledge by Israel that it would pull out some troops and shift to a more targeted campaign, and pleading from its ally Washington to kill fewer civilians.

Israel has said this week it is planning to begin drawing down troops, at least from the northern part of Gaza, after weeks of U.S. pressure to scale down its operations and shift to what Washington says should be a more targeted campaign.

But the fighting appears to be as intense as ever, especially in the southern and central areas where Israeli forces launched ground advances last month.

In Rafah, on the southern edge of the enclave, relatives wept by the bodies of 15 members of the Nofal family laid out at a hospital morgue on Wednesday morning after their home was obliterated by an Israeli air strike overnight.

Most of the white shrouds were tiny, with children inside. A man partly opened one and caressed the face of a small boy with his hand. Relatives gently restrained another man who was wailing at the feet of the bodies.

At the site of the strike, where a huge crater had been blasted in the floor of a building, neighbours clambered through the ruins, strewn with bloodsoaked mattresses and broken toys.

Um Ayman al-Najjar, whose daughter and niece were killed, was bundled against the cold in the wreckage: “We woke up surrounded by all this rubble on top of our heads, hit after hit. I don’t know how we got out, stepping above things, blood shedding from us.”

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