Airstrikes blast UN shelters, official says, as Israel announces complete encirclement of Gaza city

Israel has reportedly launched an operation to encircle the Gaza Strip’s main city with airstrikes on supposed UN-run shelters, according to a senior Palestinian official.

The Palestinian official, who asked not to be named, said on Wednesday morning that the airstrikes were targeting shelters belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the city of Rafah near the border with Egypt.

The official also claimed that Israeli warplanes were targeting security positions belonging to the Palestinian Authority along with other areas in the city and refugee camps in the northern Gaza Strip.

The UN has not yet confirmed the reports, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the military was carrying out “an intense campaign in the Gaza Strip, where we are determined to encircle the city and achieve complete encirclement of Gaza City and all of the region.”

Israel has claimed the operation is in response to rocket fire from Hamas militants. The military has also said that it is targeting what it called “terror targets” and has accused Hamas of using civilian sites to launch attacks.

The Palestinian official said that the airstrikes had caused significant damage to the structures at the shelters and that there were no reports of casualties so far.

The UN has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, saying that civilian infrastructure should not be targeted in the conflict.

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