Israel hits Gaza as tensions surge on Lebanon border

People walk towards a devastated building at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

Israeli forces struck Gaza and battled Hamas militants on Friday as truce efforts failed to make progress and tensions surged on Israel's northern border with Lebanon.

Witnesses reported strikes on the southern city of Rafah and central areas of the Gaza Strip.

At Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central city of Deir al-Balah, men gathered over the body of an 11-year-old boy who died during a bombardment of nearby Bureij refugee camp.

In a black singlet, the child lay on a floor smeared with fresh blood, a white bandage covering the top half of his face, AFP images showed.

The Israeli military said troops continued operations in central Gaza, where warplanes struck a militant cell in the Zeitun area.

Witnesses in Rafah, on Gaza's southern border with Egypt, reported helicopter fire, while Hamas's armed wing said its militants fired mortar rounds at Israeli troops near the Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood.

Israel launched its war on Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,190 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli official figures.

Hamas seized 251 hostages. Of these 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 of them are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,266 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory's health ministry.

The toll includes at least 34 deaths over the past 24 hours, the ministry said on Friday.

  Border escalation 

Fears of a broader Middle East conflict have surged again, with Lebanon-based Hezbollah fighters, who are backed by Iran and allied...

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