Palestinians Crowd Into Ever-shrinking Areas In Gaza As Israel’s War Against Hamas Enters 3rd Month

Desperate Palestinians fleeing Israel’s expanding ground offensive crowded into an ever-shrinking area of the Gaza Strip as the Israel-Hamas war entered its third month Friday. The United Nations warned that its aid operation is “in tatters” because no place in the besieged enclave is safe.

Israel’s military assault on Gaza, a tiny, densely populated territory, has led to widespread civilian casualties and mass displacements, triggering international alarm.

The Israeli army said Friday that over the past day the military had struck about 450 targets in the Gaza Strip by air, sea and ground, signaling the continued intensity of its campaign. Palestinian TV stations reported airstrikes on various parts of the territory.

“Airstrikes and random artillery shelling have continued intensely since last night until this morning,” said Hassan Al Najjar, a journalist speaking by phone from northern Gaza.

Earlier this week, U.N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a rarely exercised power to warn the Security Council of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe,” and Arab and predominantly Muslim nations have called for a vote Friday on a Council resolution to demand an immediate cease-fire.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, appears likely to block any U.N. effort to halt the fighting, which was triggered by the deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel. Still, U.S. concern over the devastation is growing. U.S. officials told Israel ahead of the expansion of its ground offensive to southern Gaza several days ago that it must limit civilian deaths and displacement, saying too many Palestinians were killed when it obliterated much of Gaza City and surrounding areas in the north.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a call with Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer that casualties are still too high, a senior State Department official said. Blinken told Dermer that Israel must also do more to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private diplomatic discussion.

Israel insists it must crush the military capabilities of Hamas, which rules Gaza, and remove it from power following the group’s Oct. 7 attack.

In the first stage of the war, Israel’s air and ground campaign focused on the northern half of Gaza, leading hundreds of thousands of residents to flee south. Intense battles continued in parts of the north in recent days, while troops there have rounded up hundreds of Palestinian men.

In photos and video published Thursday, dozens of men are seen sitting in rows on a street in northern Gaza, stripped down to their underwear with their heads bowed as they are being guarded by Israeli troops.

A Palestinian woman gestures following Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
A Palestinian woman gestures following Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
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