Israel’s ground troops have broken through Hamas’s front lines of defence, the IDF has said, as the country’s forces continue their advance towards Gaza City.
An Israeli commander said the soldiers are now ‘at the gates’ of the city that before the war was home to around 1.1 million, many of whom have fled south.
A statement from the Israeli air force said the country’s forces had engaged in ‘prolonged battles with the terrorists’, and attacked from the land, sea and air.
‘At the end of the fighting, dozens of terrorists were killed,’ the statement said.
Sightings of Israeli forces inside Gaza, as well as the limited information released by both the IDF and Hamas on where fighting has taken place, all point to the Jewish state’s military commanders working to surround the city.
Satellite images of northern Gaza appear to confirm the Israeli advance deep into the enclave. Analysis of the images show breaches through the perimeter fence, tank tracks in the sand, damaged buildings and large craters from artillery
Israeli tanks are seen in the Gaza Strip in images released by the IDF
A view of destroyed buildings in the northern Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel
Tanks are understood to have cut off a main road that runs the full length of the Gaza Strip, also suggesting that Israeli forces are working to divide the enclave in two – the northern region around Gaza City and the south where most people have fled to.
Satellite images of northern Gaza appeared to confirm the Israeli advance deep into the enclave. Analysis of the images show breaches through the perimeter fence, tank tracks in the sand, damaged buildings and large craters from artillery.
Armoured vehicles have also been seen stationed in clearings between bombed-out buildings – many of which have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the country’s ruthless bombardment of the territory since Hamas’s October 7 terror attack.
Israeli troops appear to be advancing on three main routes, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a US research group.
One thrust came from Gaza’s northeast corner. Another, south of Gaza City, cut across the territory, reaching the main north-south highway.
The third, from Gaza’s northwest corner, has moved about 3 miles down the Mediterranean coast, reaching the outskirts of the Shati and Jabaliya refugee camps, on the edges of Gaza City.
Palestinian fighters fired anti-tank missiles, set off explosive devices and hurled grenades at Israeli troops during an overnight battle, the IDF said.
It said soldiers returned fire and called in artillery, as well as strikes from a helicopter and a naval ship. The report could not be independently confirmed.
Israel has so far stopped short of an rapid, overwhelming all-out ground assault on Gaza that many expected and feared.
However, the satellite images still demonstrate a significant ground force.
Breaches through the perimeter fence can be seen in this satellite image, as well as a series of craters caused by Israeli artillery. IDF tanks have entered through the gaps in the fence
Tanks can be seen in clearings between bombed-out buildings in Gaza. These satellite images show an area roughly two miles into the territory
More bomb craters can be seen in these satellite images further south
Yet more bomb craters are seen about four miles into the Gaza Strip
BEFORE: A satellite image shows northern Gaza before the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, October 6, 2023
DURING: A satellite image shows northern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, October 26, 2023
News of Israel’s continued advance came as the Hamas-run government in Gaza said 195 people had been killed in strikes this week on the Jabalia refugee camp.
The camp is the largest refugee camp in the 140-square-mile territory.
‘The victims of the first and second massacres in Jabalia exceed 1,000’ including ‘martyrs and wounded’, said the Hamas government press office in a statement referring to strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
‘We have recorded 195 martyrs, 120 missing under the rubble, and 777 wounded.’
Israel said the strikes killed militants and demolished Hamas tunnels.
Gaza officials say in total, 8,796 people have been killed in Israeli strikes, two-thirds of them women and children.
The IDF’s bombardment of the territory was launched in retaliation after Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel and killed 1,400 people.
They also kidnapped around 240 people and took them back into the Gaza Strip.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remain in the path of the fighting in northern Gaza, despite Israel’s repeated calls for them to evacuate the region and head to the territory’s south, which is also being bombarded.
Casualties on both sides are expected to rise as Israeli troops advance toward the dense residential neighborhoods of Gaza City.
Israeli officials say Hamas’ military infrastructure, including tunnels, is concentrated in the city and accuse Hamas of hiding among civilians.
Palestinians search for bodies and survivors among the rubble following Israeli airstrikes on Al Falouja in Jabalia town, northern Gaza, November 1
Palestinians search for bodies and survivors among the rubble following Israeli airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp, November 1
Evacuations of a limited number of wounded Palestinians and foreign passports holders crossed into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday.
At least 335 foreign passport holders left Gaza through the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Wednesday, as well as 76 wounded Palestinians.
More are expected to cross on Thursday. Hisham Adwan, the director of the crossing in southern Gaza, said about 100 wounded people and 400 foreigners and dual nationals, including US citizens, were expected to be evacuated.
Cairo said it would help evacuate ‘about 7,000’ foreigners and dual nationals from Gaza, who hold passports from more than 60 countries.
However, Egypt has said it will not accept an influx of Palestinian refugees, fearing Israel will not allow them to return to Gaza after the war.
Meanwhile, more than 20,000 wounded people are still trapped in Gaza, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), with the humanitarian crisis only deepening as Israel continues with its bombardment. Hospitals are increasingly unable to function, while water, food and medical supplies are running dangerously low.
The World Health Organization said the lack of fuel puts at risk 1,000 patients on kidney dialysis, 130 premature babies in incubators, as well as cancer patients and patients on ventilators.
Israel has refused to allow fuel in, saying it fears Hamas would steal it for military purposes. The military released a recording of what it said was a Hamas commander forcing a hospital to hand over some fuel.
The recording could not be independently verified.
Only hours of electricity remained at Gaza City’s largest hospital, Shifa, according to its director, Mohammed Abu Salmia, who pleaded for ‘whoever has a liter of diesel in his home’ to donate it.
The Turkish-Palestinian Hospital, Gaza’s only facility offering specialized treatment for cancer patients, was forced to shut down Wednesday because of lack of fuel, leaving 70 cancer patients in a critical situation, the Health Ministry said.
The Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza, where many of those wounded in the Jabaliya strikes were being treated, was forced to turn off most lights and its mortuary refrigerators.
Palestinians with dual citizenship walk as they wait for permission to leave Gaza at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 2
Palestinians with dual nationality register to cross to Egypt on the Gaza Strip side of the border crossing in Rafah, November 2
A satellite image shows an overview of the Rafah border crossing, November 1
‘These exceptional measures will allow the Indonesian Hospital to work for a few more days,’ Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. ‘However, if we cannot secure electricity or fuel then we will face a disaster.’
Egyptian officials said 76 seriously wounded and sick people had crossed the Rafah crossing for treatment in Egypt on Wednesday, the first day the border had opened.
‘There are still over 20,000 injured people in Gaza with limited access to healthcare due to the siege,’ MSF said.
Israel has allowed more than 260 trucks carrying food and medicine to enter from Egypt, but aid workers say it’s not nearly enough.
They say 100-per-day is the absolute minimum required for Gaza’s 2.2 million people.
President Joe Biden, responding to a heckler at a Minnesota campaign event on Wednesday night, said there should be a humanitarian ‘pause’ in the war to get the hostages out. ‘I think we need a pause,’ he said.
The White House has previously called for ‘humanitarian pauses’ to allow aid to be delivered into Gaza or to carry out evacuations, but has so far refused to discuss a ceasefire, believing it would exclusively play into the hands of Hamas.
On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks in Israel and then visit other countries in the region as Washington seeks ‘urgent mechanisms’ to reduce regional tensions, his office said.
The U.S. has pledged unwavering support for Israel as it seeks to end Hamas’ rule over Gaza and crush its military capabilities, even as the two allies seem to have no clear plan for the day after.
White House officials said a pause in fighting would allow more aid to get into Gaza and create a possibility for more hostages to be freed.
As the situation inside Gaza continues to deteriorate, fears are also growing that the conflict could tip over into the wider region.
Members of an Israeli artillery unit move toward the border with the Gaza Strip, at an undisclosed location, southern Israel, November 1
Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels on Wednesday said they launched a drone attack towards Israel, the latest in a spate of such raids since the start of the war.
A Huthi military statement said the rebels had ‘launched a large batch of drones… at several targets’ in Israel, vowing to ‘continue to carry out their military operations in support’ of the Palestinian people.
Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and daily skirmishes between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants, has disrupted life for millions of Israelis and forced an estimated 250,000 to evacuate towns near the borders in the north and south.
Most rockets are intercepted or fall in open areas.