Israel increases its ground offensive into Gaza

On Monday, Israeli armor and troops advanced further into northern and central Gaza, despite warnings from the UN and medical personnel that airstrikes are getting closer to hospitals where thousands of injured Palestinians and tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge.

The primary north-south highway in Gaza, which the Israeli military had earlier instructed Palestinians to use to flee the escalating group offensive, was blocked by an Israeli tank and bulldozer, according to video that the agencies were able to obtain.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari responded, “We expanded our operations,” but he would not comment on a specific deployment when asked if forces had taken up positions on the road.

A tank is parked behind a small building across the road from an earth barrier, as seen in the video. The car comes to a stop and reverses. The car is engulfed in an explosion and the tank looks to catch fire as it accelerates away.

Filming the scene from a different car, the journalist screams, “Go back! Go back!” at an approaching ambulance and other cars as she quickly flees in fear. Three people died in the struck car, according to a later statement from the Gaja Health Ministry.

The Israeli advances, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to as a “second stage” of the conflict sparked by Hamas’ deadly incursion on October 7, saw Israeli forces stationed on both sides of Gaja city and the surrounding areas of Northern Gaza. As Israeli forces and Palestinian militants engage in combat in populated areas, it is anticipated that the number of casualties on both sides will increase significantly.

If the north-south highway is blocked, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are still in the north will have nowhere to go. According to UN estimates, about 117000 displaced people are staying in hospitals in northern Gaja with thousands of patients and staff in the hopes that they will be spared from strikes.

While Israel ordered most residents to evacuate to the southern part of the besieged territory, many chose to stay because Israel had also bombed targets in areas designated as safe zones.

According to the Gaja Health Minister, over 8,000 Palestinians have died, the majority of them were women and children. 

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