Israeli Troops Surround Gaza City And Cut Off Northern Part Of The Besieged Hamas-ruled Territory

Israeli troops early Monday had surrounded Gaza City and cut off the northern part of the besieged territory as communications lost for several hours across Gaza overnight were gradually being restored.

Troops are expected to enter the city Monday or Tuesday, Israeli media reported, and militants who have prepared for years are expected to fight street by street using a vast network of tunnels. Casualties will likely rise on both sides in the month-old war, which has already killed more than 9,700 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Some 1.5 million Palestinians, or around 70% of the population, have fled their homes since the war began with a bloody Hamas incursion into Israel that killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians. Food, medicine, fuel and water are running low, and U.N.-run schools-turned-shelters are beyond capacity, with many sleeping on the streets outside.

Israel has so far rejected U.S. suggestions for a pause in fighting to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries and the release of some of the estimated 240 captives seized by Hamas in its Oct. 7 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.

A Jordanian military cargo plane air-dropped medical aid to a field hospital in northern Gaza, 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 with Gaza.

The situation remains dire in the north. Some 800,000 people have heeded Israeli military orders to flee to southern Gaza, even though Israel had continued airstrikes in the area. Strikes in central and southern Gaza — the purported safe zone — killed at least 53 people on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands remain in Gaza City and other parts of the north. Some 2,000 people, many carrying only what they could hold in their arms, walked down Gaza’s main north-south highway on Sunday during an hourslong window in which the military had encouraged them to flee.

One man said they walked 500 meters (yards) with their hands raised while passing Israeli troops. Another described seeing bodies along the road. “The children saw tanks for the first time. Oh world, have mercy on us,” said one Palestinian man, who declined to give his name.

A majority of Gaza’s population are the descendants of Palestinian refugees who fled or were driven out of Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. Palestinians refer to their exodus as the Nakba, or catastrophe, and many fear a repeat as hundreds of thousands are displaced by the latest war.

The Israeli military said late Sunday that it had severed northern Gaza from the south, calling it a “significant stage” in the war. It said a one-way corridor for residents to flee south would remain available.

The military says 30 troops have been killed since the ground offensive began over a week ago. Palestinian militants have continued firing rockets into Israel, disrupting daily life even as most are intercepted or fall in open areas. Tens of thousands of Israelis have evacuated from communities near the volatile borders with Gaza and Lebanon.

Communications in Gaza went down late Sunday for the third time in the war, according to the internet access advocacy group and the Palestinian telecom company Paltel. Aid workers say the outages make it even harder for civilians to seek safety or even call ambulances.

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