Israel expands ground assault in Gaza, striking near hospitals
Israeli troops and armor pushed deeper into the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, reaching built-up areas as the UN and medical staff warned that airstrikes are hitting closer to hospitals, where tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought shelter alongside thousands of wounded.
The increasing ground operations came a day after 33 trucks carrying food, medicine and other supplies entered Gaza from Egypt, the largest convoy of humanitarian aid since the war between Israel and Hamas began. Relief workers said Monday the assistance still fell far short of needs in Gaza, which has been under siege for weeks.
The Gaza Health Ministry said the death toll among Palestinians passed 8,000, mostly women and minors, as Israeli tanks and infantry pursued what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “second stage” in the war ignited by Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 incursion.
The toll is without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Over 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians killed during the initial attack, also an unprecedented figure.
Israeli forces appeared to be driving deeper into Gaza from the north. Video released Monday by the military showed armored vehicles moving among buildings and soldiers taking positions inside a house. The exact location was not known, but military footage Saturday had shown troops moving through empty sandy areas near Gaza’s northern border fence.
The military said Monday that overnight its troops had killed dozens of militants who attacked from inside buildings and tunnels, and that strikes had destroyed a building Hamas was using as a staging post. It said that in the last few days, it had struck more than 600 militant targets, including weapons depots and anti-tank missile launching positions. The reports of targeting could not be independently confirmed.
Hamas’ military wing said its militants clashed with Israeli troops who entered the northwest Gaza Strip with small arms and anti-tank missiles. Palestinian militants have continued firing rockets into Israel, including toward its commercial hub, Tel Aviv.
Communications were restored to most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people Sunday after over a day without phone and internet services amid bombardment that residents described as the most intense of the war.