Israeli Army Advances into South Gaza, Home to Crowded Refugee Areas
The Israeli military intensified its operations in Gaza on Monday amidst rising Palestinian casualties. Army spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) targets areas where Hamas, deemed a terrorist organization by Israel, maintains a presence.
Israeli troops began a ground offensive in northern Gaza on October 27 and expanded southward towards densely populated refugee areas after a truce with Hamas ended on Friday. Air raids were predominant until forces shifted focus to the south, home to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons.
A nighttime airstrike on Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza reportedly killed several people, per Wafa news agency. Hamas condemned the attack as a breach of international humanitarian law. When asked about the strike, the Israeli army did not immediately comment. Israel routinely accuses Hamas of shielding behind civilians and using medical facilities for military purposes, allegations that some critique as an attempt to justify Israel's military actions. International criticism persists despite claims from Israel about Hamas' tactics.
The IDF reported the death of five soldiers, with three fatalities occurring on Sunday.
Additionally, Israeli operations spanned the West Bank, including a significant presence in Jenin.
Hospitals, especially in southern Gaza, are under severe strain from the casualties, and face a critical shortage of fuel for generators. Unicef spokesperson James Elder, stationed at Nasser hospital in Khan Younes, expressed his shock at the trauma affecting children.
The IDF claimed it had conducted approximately 10,000 airstrikes since the war began on October 7, following a deadly Hamas incursion into southern Israel. Palestinian officials announced that 15,523 people, most of them women and children, have died since the onset of the conflict.
Gaza's health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidreh noted that though many casualties had been retrieved from debris, more remained trapped.
The United States, while affirming Israel's right to self-defense, cautioned its key Middle Eastern ally about increasing civilian fatalities. Vice-President Kamala Harris expressed concern and urged Israel to better safeguard non-combatants.
Hamas' initial attack claimed around 1,200 lives, predominantly civilians. In retaliation, Israel declared an objective to "annihilate" Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007.