Israeli troops and tanks have moved into the northern part of Gaza today, gradually extending their control of land and roads within the borders of Gaza.
The Associated Press reports that it has obtained video of an Israeli tank and bulldozer blocking Gaza’s main north-south highway which Israel told Palestinians civilians to use to escape Israel’s ground offensive.
The BBC says that the tank, which fired on a car moving towards Gaza City, marks the first appearance of Israeli forces on the road just north of Wadi Gaza.
The tank appears to have moved on, but Wadi Gaza is the line the IDF has repeatedly referred to when telling people living in the northern third of the Gaza Strip – including Gaza City and the surrounding areas – to move south.
It’s clear that as Israeli forces gradually escalate their operations, Gaza City will be a major focus of their efforts.
But with tens – perhaps hundreds – of thousands of people remaining in the north out of fear or determination – it seems the IDF could attempt to cut it off completely.
There are only two north-south roads. Salah-al-Din, where this morning’s incident took place, is the main route. There is also a smaller road, along the coast, which can be easily targeted by Israeli warships off the coast.
The Israeli Air Force says it has hit over 600 Hamas targets in Gaza in a 24-hour period.
Israel said it also struck targets in Syria and Lebanon. The attacks, the Israeli military said Monday, were in response to attacks launched from both countries.
Israel Defense Forces said, “During clashes with terrorists in the Gaza Strip, IDF troops killed dozens of terrorists who barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels and attempted to attack the troops.” Hamas also has reported heavy fighting in northwest Gaza.
Save the Children said in a statement that the number of children reported killed in Gaza in three weeks “has surpassed the annual number of children killed across the world’s conflict zones since 2019.” More than 3,000 children have been killed in the Israeli-Gaza conflict.
Israel published pictures of its tanks on the Palestinian enclave’s western coast 48 hours after ordering expanded ground incursions across its eastern border.
Hamas said it hit Israeli tanks in north Gaza with missiles and scoffed at reports that Israeli troops had advanced deep into Gaza. Neither report could be independently verified.
The Israeli military again Sunday issued an urgent call to Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip to evacuate southward temporarily, away from the epicenter of the war against Hamas.
“Relocating southward is for their personal safety,” chief spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Sunday.
“We are today emphasizing that this is an urgent call,” he said in a televised briefing. He also reported that the number of people confirmed held hostage in Gaza since Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border onslaught in southern Israel was now 239.
Israel also reported that its ground forces killed several Hamas militants as they exited a tunnel near the Erez crossing, the sole pedestrian passageway from Gaza into Israel before it was destroyed in the recent fighting.
Hamas has a far-reaching network of tunnels underneath Gaza where it is believed to have a stockpile of weapons, food and other supplies.
Israel declared war on Hamas after the militant group carried out a terror attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took more than 200 hostages.
Since then, the Palestinian death toll has passed 8,000, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says.
Sources: VOA, BBC.