Israel’s Ground Forces Battle Hamas Fighters in Gaza City
Israel’s ground forces have entered Gaza City, marking a significant escalation in the month-long conflict between Israel and Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that Israel plans to take control of Gaza’s security after the war. The push into Gaza City is expected to increase the already staggering death toll and prolong the conflict.
Israeli ground troops have been engaged in battles with Palestinian militants in Gaza for over a week. They have successfully cut the territory in half and encircled Gaza City. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the army’s chief spokesman, confirmed that Israeli ground forces are currently operating in the depths of Gaza City, putting pressure on Hamas. However, Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad denied that Israeli forces had made any significant military gains or advanced deep into the city.
The month-long conflict has taken a devastating toll on both sides. In southern Israel, where the war was sparked by a rampage by Hamas militants that killed 1,400 people, 240 individuals remain abducted by Hamas. Over 250,000 Israelis have evacuated their homes near the borders of Gaza and Lebanon due to continuous rocket attacks. In Gaza, over 10,300 Palestinians have been killed, with two-thirds of them being women and minors. The destruction caused by airstrikes has reduced entire city blocks to rubble, leaving around 70% of Gaza’s population displaced and relying on limited aid and resources.
As Israel continues its offensive in Gaza, more Palestinians are fleeing to the south to escape the ground assault. Many arrive on foot or donkey carts, carrying only the clothes on their backs. However, some are hesitant to leave due to Israeli control over part of the north-south route. The south has also been targeted by Israeli airstrikes, resulting in the destruction of homes and the loss of innocent lives.
Israel’s objective is to remove Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities. However, there is uncertainty about what comes next. Netanyahu has suggested that Gaza should be governed by those who do not support Hamas, without providing further details. Israel has vowed to maintain overall security responsibility for Gaza, citing the eruption of Hamas terror when security control is absent. The United States, Israel’s main ally, does not support an Israeli reoccupation of the Gaza Strip after the war.
Israeli officials have acknowledged that the offensive against Hamas will be a long-term effort. They have not yet formulated a concrete plan for what comes after the war, but options being discussed include demilitarizing and deradicalizing Gaza. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintained control over certain aspects of the territory. Since then, Hamas seized power and Israel, along with Egypt, imposed a blockade on Gaza.
In an interview with ABC News, Netanyahu expressed openness to “little pauses” in the fighting to facilitate aid delivery or hostage releases. However, he ruled out a general ceasefire without the release of all hostages.
Heavy fighting continues in northern Gaza, including Gaza City, where Hamas has extensive militant infrastructure within residential areas. The death toll in Gaza includes both civilians and combatants, and the exact number of Hamas fighters killed is unknown. The war has also heightened tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, with exchanges of fire along the border. In the West Bank, violent protests and clashes with Israeli forces during arrest raids have resulted in the deaths of over 160 Palestinians since the war began.
While some aid has been allowed into Gaza from Egypt, humanitarian workers stress that it falls far short of the mounting needs of the population. The Rafah Crossing has also opened to allow foreign passport holders and medical patients to leave Gaza.
As the conflict rages on, the situation in Gaza remains dire. The international community continues to call for an end to the violence and a lasting solution that ensures the safety and well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians.