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Israel fights Hamas deep in Gaza City

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Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad, speaking on Tuesday from Beirut, denied that Israeli forces were making any significant military gains or that they had advanced deep into Gaza City.

“They never give the people the truth,” Hamad said. He added that numerous Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday and “many tanks were destroyed.”

“The Palestinians fight and fight and fight against Israel, until we end the occupation,” said Hamad, who left Gaza days before the attack.

The Associated Press could not independently verify the claims of either side.

Israelis commemorated the 30th day — a milestone in Jewish mourning — since Hamas militants killed 1,400 people during an Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel that sparked the war. Some 240 people Hamas abducted during the attack remain in Gaza, and more than 250,000 Israelis have evacuated homes near the borders of Gaza and Lebanon amid continuous rockets fired into Israel.

A month of relentless bombardment in Gaza has killed more than 10,300 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and minors, according the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run territory. More than 2,300 are believed buried from strikes that reduced entire city blocks to rubble.

Around 70% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, and many of them are crowded into U.N. schools-turned-shelters. Civilians in Gaza are relying on a trickle of aid and their own daily foraging for food and water from supplies that have dwindled after weeks of siege.

Israel unleashed another wave of strikes across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday as hundreds more Palestinians fled Gaza City to the south.

Some arrived on donkey carts, most on foot, some pushing elderly relatives in wheelchairs, all visibly exhausted. Many had nothing but the clothes on their backs. “There is no food or drink, people are fighting in the bakeries,” said one man who didn’t want to give his name.

Hundreds of thousands have heeded Israeli orders to head to the southern part of Gaza, out of the ground assault’s path. Others are afraid to do so since Israeli troops control part of the north-south route.

Israel has vowed to remove Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities — but neither Israel nor its main ally, the United States, has said what would come next.

Netanyahu told ABC News that Gaza should be governed by “those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas,” without elaborating.

“I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it. When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine,” he said.

Netanyahu did not make clear what shape that security control would take. The White House on Tuesday reiterated that President Joe Biden does not support an Israeli reoccupation of the Gaza Strip after the war.

“We do think that there needs to be a healthy set of conversations about what post-conflict Gaza looks like and what governance looks like,” said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, adding that he would leave it to Netanyahu to clarify what he means by “indefinite.”

Israeli officials say the offensive against Hamas will last for some time and acknowledge that they have not yet formulated a concrete plan for what comes after the war. The defense minister has said Israel does not seek a long-term reoccupation of Gaza but predicted a lengthy phase of low-intensity fighting against “pockets of resistance.” Other officials have spoken about establishing a buffer zone that would keep Palestinians away from the Israeli border.

“There are a number of options being discussed for The Day After Hamas,” said Ophir Falk, a senior adviser to Netanyahu. “The common denominator of all the plans is that 1) there is no Hamas 2) that Gaza is demilitarized 3) Gaza is deradicalized.”

Israel withdrew troops and settlers in 2005 but kept control over Gaza’s airspace, coastline, population registry and border crossings, excepting one into Egypt. Hamas seized power from forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, confining his Palestinian Authority to parts of the occupied West Bank. Since then, Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza to varying degrees.

In his ABC interview, Netanyahu also expressed openness for the first time to “little pauses” in the fighting to facilitate delivery of aid to Gaza or the release of hostages. But he ruled out any general cease-fire without the release of all the hostages.

For now, Israel’s troops are focused on northern Gaza, including Gaza City, which before the war was home to about 650,000 people. Israel says Hamas has extensive militant infrastructure within residential areas, including a vast tunnel network.

The military says it has killed thousands of Hamas fighters. The Gaza Health Ministry’s death toll does not distinguish between civilians and combatants — and slain fighters not brought to hospitals would not be in its count. Israel also says 30 of its soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the ground offensive began.

Hundreds of trucks carrying aid have been allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt since Oct. 21. But humanitarian workers say the aid is far short of mounting needs. Egypt’s Rafah Crossing has also opened to allow hundreds of foreign passport holders and medical patients to leave Gaza.

The war has also stoked wider tensions, with Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group trading fire along the border. More than 160 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the war began, mainly during violent protests and gunbattles with Israeli forces during arrest raids.


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