Israel says its forces battled Hamas militants and attacked the group’s tunnel network in the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday, as dozens of deaths were reported in a strike in the area near a refugee camp.
The Hamas-run Palestinian Interior Ministry said an Israeli airstrike hit the area around the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, killing at least 50 people. Israel has not commented on the strike.
With no end in sight to the current fighting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls from around the world for a cease-fire.
Earlier, Israel said it carried out an airstrike that killed one of the Hamas commanders who orchestrated the deadly October 7 terror attack on southern Israel. The Hamas attack killed 1,400 people.
The Israeli Defense Force and Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service said Nasim Abu Ajina was commander of the Beit Lahia Battalion of Hamas’ Northern Brigade and took part in the development of the unmanned aerial vehicles and paragliders involved in the brazen invasion.
The IDF also said its combined air and ground forces struck approximately 300 targets over the last 24 hours, including anti-tank missile and underground rocket launch posts, as well as military compounds inside Hamas’ underground tunnels. The military said Hamas terrorists were killed during the operation.
Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, has a sprawling network of tunnels underneath Gaza where it is believed to be stockpiling weapons, food and other supplies.
Israeli troops and tanks are steadily moving further into northern Gaza, expanding their military presence in Gaza.
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since the October 7 attacks have led to a humanitarian crisis in the crowded Palestinian enclave. The Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry said Monday more than 8,300 have been killed in the airstrikes, mostly women and children. The humanitarian group Save the Children says more than 3,000 children have been killed in the conflict.
But Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a press conference Monday that calls for a cease-fire “are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism.”
“This will not happen,” Netanyahu added. “This is a time for war.”
Netanyahu also rejected growing calls for him to resign over the surprise Hamas attack on October 7.
‘Crumbling’ situation in Gaza
Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, told the U.N. Security Council Monday that the Israeli bombing campaign on Gaza “is collective punishment” of the Palestinians as a whole. Lazzarini said “basic services are crumbling” in Gaza, with medicine, food, water and fuel running out and the streets overflowing with sewage.
He said the communications blackout over the weekend after last week’s bombardment has “aggravated the panic and distress of people” and “accelerated the breaking down of civil order.” Lazzarini said thousands of desperate people stormed the UNRWA warehouse and distribution centers where humanitarian shipments from Egypt are being stored.
Lazzarini told the Council that 64 of his UNRWA colleagues have been killed in Gaza over the last three weeks, including the head of security and safety in the central region who was killed with his wife and eight others just hours before the Security Council meeting.
Video of hostages as Israeli soldier is rescued
The Israeli military said Monday that a female soldier held captive by Hamas militants was freed during Monday’s ground operation. The IDF says the soldier, identified as Private Ori Megidish, was doing well and had met with her family.
Hamas on Monday released a video showing three hostages whom Prime Minister Netanyahu identified in a written statement as Elena Trupanov, Daniel Aloni and Rimon Kirsht. The trio sat side by side against a bare wall as Aloni delivered an angry message to the prime minister, criticizing Israel’s response to the hostage crisis and demanding he release Hamas prisoners in exchange for the hostages.
Netanyahu condemned the video as “cruel psychological propaganda.”
Israel says the number of hostages abducted during the terrorist attack now stands at 240.