Escalation Of Ground Assault And Airstrikes
Early on Monday, Israeli forces, supported by tanks, intensified their ground assault on Gaza, resulting in substantial air and artillery strikes. This development has led to increased international appeals for the protection of civilians.
The Israeli Defense Forces stated that it had targeted over 600 militant sites in recent days and will continue to advance ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Israel airstrikes struck areas near Gaza’s Al-Quds and Al-Shifa hospitals.
There were also reported clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces in a border region east of the city of Khan Younis in the south. Residents reported hearing gunfire and explosions throughout the night.
Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed their members were engaged in combat with Israeli forces in Gaza as well as in the West Bank city of Jenin. Israel shared pictures of battle tanks positioned along the enclave’s western coastline, indicating a possible move to surround Gaza’s central city.
This development comes two days after the Israeli government authorized broader ground operations. Pictures shared on the internet depict Israeli soldiers proudly holding up an Israeli flag in the heart of Gaza.
Undercover Operations In Gaza
Israel’s announced “second phase” in the ongoing three-week battle with the Hamas militants has primarily taken place away from public view. Forces have been operating under the cover of darkness as telecommunications blackouts isolated Palestinians.
Although phone and internet services showed some improvement on Sunday, Paltel, a telecoms provider, reported that Israel’s airstrikes once again disrupted internet and mobile phone access in parts of Gaza’s northern areas, where Hamas maintains its command centers. These outages have significantly impeded rescue efforts for casualties.
Meanwhile, Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals in Gaza for military purposes, a claim which Hamas denies. According to Palestinian officials, about 50,000 people have sought shelter in Al-Shifa Hospital.
Since Hamas gunmen breached into Israel on October 7, Israel has intensified its blockade and bombardment of Gaza. Israeli authorities stated that the militants killed around 1,400 Israeli residents and took at least 239 hostages. The military also escalated its operations against Islamist groups in the West Bank, resulting in the deaths of numerous Palestinians and the arrest of hundreds.
Nevertheless, negotiations mediated by Qatar between Israel and Hamas have continued, focusing on topics such as the potential release of hostages.
A Call For Humanitarian Pause
Hamas wants a five-day humanitarian pause in fighting so that aid, like food and fuel, can reach the people in Gaza. In return, they’d release all civilian hostages they’re holding, as per an unnamed source in the discussions.
The Israeli government reports that about half of the hostages held by Hamas hold foreign passports from 25 different countries, including 54 individuals from Thailand. Following Hamas’ request, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
The 15-member body has previously voted unsuccessfully four times in the past two weeks on draft resolutions regarding the ongoing war.