Israeli forces cut off north Gaza as Palestinian death toll from monthlong war passes 10,000
STATE TIMES NEWS
Deir Al-Balah (Gaza Strip): Israeli forces severed northern Gaza from the rest of the besieged territory and pounded it with intense airstrikes overnight into Monday, as the Palestinian death toll from a month of fighting passed 10,000.
An even bloodier phase is expected as Israeli troops push into the dense confines of Gaza City.
Palestinians held a mass funeral for dozens killed a day earlier in strikes in the south, where Israel has told civilians to seek refuge though it has continued to strike targets all across the coastal enclave.
Troops are expected to enter Gaza City soon, Israeli media reported, and Palestinian militants who have had years to prepare are likely to fight street by street, launching ambushes from a vast network of tunnels.
Casualties will likely rise on both sides in the war, which has already killed at least 10,022 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians.
Some 1,400 Israelis have died, mostly civilians killed in the October 7 incursion by Hamas that started the conflict. Both tolls are unprecedented in the decades-old conflict.
The Israeli military said late on Sunday that it had cut off northern Gaza from the south, calling it a “significant stage” in the war.
On Monday, it said that aircraft struck 450 targets overnight and ground troops took over a Hamas compound. A one-way corridor for residents to flee south remains available, according to the military, for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who remain in Gaza City and other parts of the north.
Some 1.5 million Palestinians, or around 70 per cent of Gaza’s population, have fled their homes since the war began. Food, medicine, fuel and water are running low, and UN-run schools-turned-shelters are beyond capacity, with many sleeping on the streets outside.
Mobile phone and internet service went down overnight, the third territory-wide outage since the start of the war, but was gradually restored on Monday, according to the Palestinian telecom company Paltel and internet access advocacy group NetBlocks.org. Aid workers say the outages make it even harder for civilians to seek safety or even call ambulances.
Israel has so far rejected US suggestions for a pause in fighting to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries and the release of some of the estimated 240 hostages seized by Hamas in its raid. Israel has also dismissed calls for a broader cease-fire from increasingly alarmed Arab countries including Jordan and Egypt, which made peace with it decades ago.
After days of intense diplomacy around the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his tour of the region on Monday, saying efforts to secure a humanitarian pause, negotiate the release of hostages and plan for a post-Hamas Gaza were still “a work in progress” without pointing to any concrete achievements.
The war has also stoked wider tensions, with Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group trading fire along the border. In another sign of growing unrest, a Palestinian man stabbed and wounded two members of Israel’s paramilitary Border Police in east Jerusalem before being shot dead, according to police and an Associated Press reporter at the scene.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with Gaza and the West Bank, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want all three territories for a future state. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognised by most of the international community and considers the entire city its capital.
In northern Gaza, a Jordanian military cargo plane air-dropped medical aid to a field hospital, King Abdullah II said early Monday. It appeared to be the first such airdrop of the war, raising the possibility of another avenue for aid delivery besides Egypt’s Rafah crossing, which has so far been the only entry point.
Over 450 trucks carrying aid have been allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt since October 21, but humanitarian workers say it’s insufficient to meet mounting needs in the territory, which is home to