DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Israel’s war with Hamas erupted again Friday, as airstrikes hit houses and buildings in the Gaza Strip minutes after a weeklong truce expired. Health authorities in the besieged territory reported dozens of Palestinians killed and Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza City and southern parts of the enclave, urging civilians to flee to avoid the fighting.
Militants in Gaza resumed firing rockets into Israel, and fighting broke out between Israel and Hezbollah militants operating along its northern border with Lebanon.
The resumption of the war threatens to compound the suffering in Gaza. Some 2 million people — almost its entire population — are crammed into the territory’s south, where Israel urged people to relocate at the war’s start and has since vowed to extend its ground assault. Unable to go into north Gaza or neighboring Egypt, their only escape is to move around within the 85-square-mile area (220 square kilometers).
Renewed hostilities also heighten concerns for about 140 hostages still held captive by Hamas and other militants, after more than 100 were freed during the truce. For families of remaining hostages, the truce’s collapse was a blow to hopes their loved ones could be the next out after days of seeing others freed. The Israeli army said Friday it had confirmed the deaths of four more hostages, bringing the total known dead to seven.
Qatar, which has served as a mediator along with Egypt, said negotiators were still trying for a deal to restore the cease-fire. Israel and Hamas traded blame for ending the truce.
A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israeli officials to do more to protect Palestinian civilians as they seek to destroy Hamas. Blinken met Friday with Arab foreign ministers at global climate talks in Dubai.
It was not clear to what extent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will heed the appeals of the United States, Israel’s most important ally.
Netanyahu’s office said Friday that Israel “is committed to achieving the goals of the war,” including releasing the hostages and eliminating Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.
In response to the U.S. calls, the Israeli military released an online map dividing the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered, haphazardly drawn parcels. It asked residents to learn the number of their location in case of an eventual evacuation. The map did not designate safe areas to evacuate to, and it was not clear how easily Palestinians could access it.
Hours into the renewed bombardment, Gaza’s Health Ministry said 178 people were killed and dozens wounded. Israel said it struck more than 200 Hamas targets.
Up until the truce began, more than 13,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s assault, roughly two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
The toll is likely much higher, as officials have only sporadically updated the count since Nov. 11. The ministry says thousands more people are feared dead under the rubble.
The war began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and other militants, who killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel and took around 240 people captive. The New York Times reported Israel’s military was aware of Hamas’ plan to attack Israeli soil over a year before the devastating operation.