Jerusalem – During the advance against fighters from the radical Palestinian movement Hamas in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops reached further than the outskirts of Gaza City. According to Reuters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this today. The Israeli army announced in the evening that it had “completed the encirclement of Gaza City” a week after launching a ground operation in the Palestinian territory. The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, warned that Gaza would be a “curse” for Israel and that its soldiers would leave it “in black bags”.
“We are at the peak of the battle. We have achieved impressive successes and passed through the edge of Gaza City. We are moving forward,” Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office, without elaborating.
“Our soldiers have completed the encirclement of the city of Gaza, the center of the terrorist organization Hamas,” Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said at an evening press briefing.
“Gaza will be a curse for Israel,” Qassam Brigades spokesman said in a recording broadcast by Hamas media, adding that Israelis should expect “more of (their) soldiers to come back in black bags.”
Israeli army chief of staff Herci Halevi said earlier that Israeli soldiers are operating inside Gaza City and are encircling it from several directions, according to him. “We have advanced to another significant phase of the war. The forces are in the heart of northern Gaza, operating in Gaza City, encircling it, deepening (the ground offensive) and achieving success,” Halevi said in a statement published by The Guardian.
Israeli forces “are fighting in a dense and complex urban area, which requires professional fighting and courage,” Halevi said. He added that his forces are fighting “in tight spaces against a cruel enemy”. According to him, ground forces are accompanied by “precise intelligence, fire from the air and sea”. “This partnership makes the fight much more effective,” Halevi said.
The war has exacted a “painful and difficult price”, the general said, as 18 Israeli soldiers have been killed in a ground operation in Gaza since Friday, he said.
Following a surprise attack by the radical Hamas movement on southern Israel on October 7, in which Palestinian militants killed over 1,400 people, Israel launched a massive bombardment of the Gaza Strip, and in recent days has been joined by ground operations in the Palestinian territory.
According to the Ministry of Health, at least 9,061 people have already died in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, where the Hamas movement rules. The office states that another 31,000 people were injured.
UN experts today called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, saying the Palestinian people are at “serious risk of genocide”.
“We remain convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,” the experts, including several UN special rapporteurs, said in a statement. “We demand a humanitarian ceasefire so that aid reaches those who need it the most,” they added.
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