Israeli forces say they have surrounded Gaza City, severing northern Gaza from the rest of the besieged territory. The news occurred exactly one month into the conflict following the surprise attack on Israelis by Hamas on Oct. 7.
The Palestinian death toll surpassed 10,000 people, according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, The Associated Press reported. The ministry doesn’t distinguish between fighters and civilians in its accounting of the dead. About 1,400 people have been killed in Israel so far — largely civilians who were killed during the Oct. 7 incursion.
According to AP, “The war has quickly become the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian violence since Israel’s establishment 75 years ago.”
Israel surrounds Gaza City
Israel offered a four-hour window to civilians trapped inside Gaza City to escape, and “escaping residents said they passed tanks in position to storm it,” Reuters reported.
Despite calls for humanitarian cease-fires from world governments, United Nations leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israel is pressing forward. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel would take over responsibility for the territory’s security once it defeats the militants,” per Reuters.
“We’re closing in on them,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesperson, per USA Today. “We’ve completed our encirclement, separating Hamas strongholds in the north from the south.”
Israeli military reported hitting more than 450 “Hamas targets” in the past 24 hours, saying it killed a militant commander in the attacks, according to USA Today.
From the beginning of the attacks, Israel has urged civilians to flee south, but those who remained in the north argue “they are deterred by overcrowding in the south, along with dwindling water and food supplies,” per AP.
Nearly three-quarters of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled since the attacks started, The New York Times reported.
What we know about Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit
Blinken visited Israel over the weekend, where he made a surprise stop in the West Bank and in Iraq. He met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “in his latest bid to ease civilian suffering in the Gaza Strip and begin to sketch out a post-conflict scenario for the territory,” CBS News reported.
Blinken implied that it was a possibility that the Palestinian Authority “could play a role in Gaza’s future if Hamas is eliminated,” according to CNN.
“We need to see the U.S. playing the role of an honest mediator, not adopting the Israeli narrative,” Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom, said, per CNN. “We needed a grown-up in the room and that is the U.S. — unfortunately, we haven’t heard that and we have not come up with a joint statement.”