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Israeli troops batter central, south Gaza as war enters its ninth month

Israeli troops batter central, south Gaza as war enters its ninth month

At least 28 Palestinians have been killed in the latest Israeli air and tank strikes, including three in Gaza school building sheltering displaced families as Tel Aviv's brutal war entered its ninth month, rescue workers say.

On Friday, Israeli tanks advanced to the southwest edge of Rafah, snipers commandeer residential buildings and high ground, residents said.

Hamas said it bombarded Israeli troops barricaded inside the house in Deir al Balah, causing deaths and injuries.

US-backed Qatari and Egyptian mediators have tried again this week to halt hostilities, release hostages and Palestinian captives, and an untrammeled flow of aid into Gaza.

But sources close to the talks said there were still no signs of a breakthrough.

'Death circle'

A month after rumbling into Rafah, Israeli forces have advanced to the southwest fringes of the city that skirts Gaza's border with Egypt, residents said.

They said tanks were stationed in the al Izba district near the Mediterranean coast while snipers had commandeered some buildings and high ground, trapping people in their homes.

They said Israel's machinegun fire had made it too dangerous to go out.

Gaza health officials said two Palestinians had been killed and several wounded in western Rafah from tank shelling there.

In central Gaza, Palestinian medics said at least 15 people died overnight in Israeli bombardments.

"I think the occupation forces are trying to reach the beach area of Rafah. The raids and the bombing overnight were tactical, they entered under heavy fire and then retreated," one Palestinian resident told Reuters via a chat app.

In the larger city of Khan Younis just to the north of Rafah, an Israeli air strike on a house killed eight people and wounded several, including children, medics said.

In north Gaza, three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike on a Gaza City school building that was sheltering displaced families, rescue workers said.

On Thursday, Israel hit an al Nuseirat school building, killing 40 people, including women and children sheltering at the UN site.

"It's just another horrific example of the price that civilians are paying, that Palestinian men, women, and children who are just trying to survive, who are being forced to move around in sort of a death circle around Gaza, trying to find safety, are paying," UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

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