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Israel 'targets Hamas tunnels' after encircling Gaza City

Israel 'targets Hamas tunnels' after encircling Gaza City
3 min read
08 November, 2023
After allegedly encircling Gaza City, Israeli forces are now moving into raiding the city to destroy Hamas tunnels.
Israel's bombardment of Gaza City continues, even as the Israeli military claim to have encircled it [Getty]

Israel's ground forces in the Gaza Strip aimed on Wednesday to locate and disable Hamas' vast tunnel network beneath the enclave, the next phase in an Israeli offensive that has killed thousands of Palestinians.

Since Hamas launched a surprise attack and took some 240 hostages on October 7, Israel has pounded Gaza from the air and used ground troops to divide the coastal enclave in two.

Gaza City, the territory's largest town and Hamas' main stronghold, is encircled. Israel says its troops have advanced to the heart of the city while Hamas says its fighters have inflicted heavy losses on the invading forces.

Chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that Israel's combat engineering corps were using explosive devices to destroy a tunnel network built by Hamas that stretches for hundreds of kilometres (miles) beneath Gaza.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel had "one target - Hamas terrorists in Gaza, their infrastructure, their commanders, bunkers, communications rooms".

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Israeli tanks have faced heavy resistance from Hamas fighters using the tunnel network to launch ambushes, two sources with Hamas and the separate militant group Islamic Jihad said.

It was not possible to verify the battlefield claims of either side.

Israelis have voiced fear that military operations could further endanger hostages, who are believed to be held in the tunnels. Israel says it won't agree to a ceasefire until the hostages are released. Hamas says it won't stop fighting while Gaza is under attack.

"I challenge (Israel) if it has been able, to this moment, to record any military achievement on the ground other than killing civilians," senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Al Jazeera television.

"Gaza is unbreakable and will remain a thorn in the throat of the Americans and the Zionists," Hamad said.

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While Israel's military operation is focused on the northern half of Gaza, the south has also come under attack. Palestinian health officials said at least 23 people were killed in two Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday in the southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah.

Since Oct. 7, Israeli bombardment has killed more than 10,300 Palestinians, around 40% of them children.

Washington has backed Israel's position that a ceasefire would help Hamas militarily. But U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he had urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to undertake a pause in fighting.

In Gaza's Khan Younis, rescuers used their bare hands to try to free a girl buried to her waist in debris following an attack on a house that health officials said killed 11 people.

"This is the bravery of the so-called Israel - they show their might and power against civilians, babies inside, kids inside, and elderly," said Ahmed Ayesh, who was rescued from the rubble of the house.