Israel’s military could enter Gaza City, the capital of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, this week: Israeli media

Israel’s military has surrounded Gaza City, the capital of the Gaza Strip, and has divided the northern and southern parts of the territory, marking a “significant stage” in its war with Hamas, military officials said.

According to Israeli media, troops are expected to begin marching through the streets of the capital as early as Monday or Tuesday, where they are expected to face Hamas operatives who are willing to fight street by street through their vast network of tunnels.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said Monday morning aircraft struck 450 targets overnight, including tunnels, military compounds, and anti-tank missile launch posts. Troops also reportedly took over a Hamas compound early Monday morning and killed a senior Hamas militant.

Since the ground offensive in Gaza began over a week ago, 30 IDF troops have been killed, which is in addition to the more than 1,400 people killed in Israel – most of them in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting. As of Monday morning, there have also been at least 242 hostages taken from Israel into Gaza.

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Communications in Gaza went down late Sunday for several hours, according to the internet access advocacy group NetBlocks.org and the Palestinian telecom company Paltel. The companies said cell phone and internet services were restored on Monday.

The situation remains dire in the north as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remain in Gaza City and other northern towns.

Food, medicine, water and fuel, which is needed for generators that power hospitals, are all running low and Gaza’s sole power station remains shut down. Schools-turned-shelters that are run by the United Nations are beyond capacity, with many sleeping on the streets.

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While Israel has allowed humanitarian aid into the territory to assist the millions of civilians impacted by the ongoing fighting, they have not allowed fuel to enter, saying Hamas would steal it for military purposes.

Over 450 trucks carrying food, water, medicine and other basic aid have been allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt since Oct. 21, but this has been insufficient to meet mounting needs of the territory’s some 2.3 million Palestinians.

Israel continues to urge Gazans to leave their homes and head south, away from the ground invasion. Some 800,000 people have heeded Israeli military orders to flee to southern Gaza.

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Some 1.5 million Palestinians, or around 70% of the population, have fled their homes since the war began on Oct. 7.

Israel has dismissed calls for a pause in its ground operation or for a broader cease-fire despite increasing pressure to do so, including from the U.S. and nearby Jordan and Egypt.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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