Fears Gaza City in Israel's crosshairs as tanks move deeper into enclave

Fears Gaza City in Israel's crosshairs as tanks move deeper into enclave
Israeli military forces have reportedly headed toward Gaza City, as a medical emergency in the besieged enclave worsens.
3 min read
30 October, 2023
Gaza City could be the next target of an Israeli assault [Getty]

Israeli troops and armour have reportedly pushed toward Gaza City on Monday, as the UN and medical staff warned areas around hospitals - where tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought shelter - are being increasingly targeted in air strikes.

Video released Monday by the Israeli military showed armoured vehicles moving among buildings and soldiers taking positions inside a house. The exact location was not known.

Witnesses told AFP that dozens of tanks entered the Zaytun district on the southern fringes of Gaza City, cutting a key road from the north to the south of the war-torn Palestinian territory.

"We have hit more than 600 targets in the past 24 hours," an Israeli military spokesperson told AFP, up from 450 the previous day, with Hamas militants also reporting "heavy fighting" in northern Gaza.

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Located on Gaza City's southern edge, Zaytun - which normally has a population of over 130,000 - is the city's largest district, but the area where the tanks were spotted is relatively sparsely populated.

Dozens of buildings west of the Salahedin road have already been demolished by Israeli strikes in recent days.

Israeli strikes have also razed at least 10 high-rise buildings in Tal al-Hawwa, a district in the city's southwest, and damaged a Turkish-funded cancer treatment hospital in the same area, its director Sobhi Skeik told AFP.

Hamas' military wing said its militants clashed with Israeli troops who entered the northwest Gaza Strip with small arms and anti-tank missiles. Palestinian militants have continued firing rockets into Israel, including toward Tel Aviv.

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On Monday, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again rejected a ceasefire and said that the international community must demand the captives "be freed immediately, unconditionally".

"Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. This will not happen," he said. The embattled prime minister vowed that Israel would "fight until this battle is won".

It comes after Hamas released a video of three Israeli hostages blaming Netanyahu for not being released, while one Israeli captive was freed by Israeli forces on Monday.

The health ministry in Gaza says at least 8,306 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israeli air and artillery strikes since 7 October when Hamas's deadly attack on southern Israel killed 1,400 people and amid ongoing raids in the West Bank.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday sought to blame the West for the crisis in the Middle East and said the "ruling elites of the US" and their "satellites" stood behind the killing of Gaza's Palestinians.

He also accused Western intelligence services and Ukraine of helping whip up trouble in Dagestan, where local Russians on Sunday night attempted to intercept passengers at an airport that had just arrived from Israel. 

Reuters contributed to this report