Israeli troops and tanks moved deeper into northern Gaza on Monday, expanding their military presence in the Palestinian enclave, amid international calls for civilians to be protected.
As the fighting continued, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned as “cruel psychological propaganda” a video released Monday by Hamas militants showing three hostages abducted during the October 7 attack on Israel.
In his statement, Netanyahu identified the three hostages as Elena Trupanov, Daniel Aloni and Rimon Kirsht.
Israel says Hamas abducted more than 230 hostages during the October 7 terror attack that killed 1,400 people. Israel declared war on Hamas after the assault and the constant bombardment of Gaza has killed thousands of Palestinians. The Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry says the death toll has risen to more than 8,000.
Save the Children said in a statement that the number of children reported killed in Gaza in three weeks “has surpassed the annual number of children killed across the world’s conflict zones since 2019.” More than 3,000 children have been reported killed in the Israeli-Gaza conflict.
The Israeli Air Force said Monday it hit over 600 Hamas targets in Gaza in a 24-hour period.
Also Monday, Israel Defense Forces said, “During clashes with terrorists in the Gaza Strip, IDF troops killed dozens of terrorists who barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels and attempted to attack the troops.” Hamas also has reported heavy fighting in northwest Gaza.
Hamas has a sprawling network of tunnels underneath Gaza where it is believed to be stockpiling weapons, food and other supplies.
The Israeli military again Sunday issued an urgent call to Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip to evacuate southward temporarily, away from the epicenter of the war against Hamas.
Civilians, humanitarian aid
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism. But he also underscored the need to prioritize the protection of civilians.
The two discussed efforts to protect the hostages seized by Hamas on October 7, and Biden emphasized “the need to immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza” as supplies dwindle there, the White House said.
Biden also spoke with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to thank him for Egypt’s role in delivering humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. They agreed to accelerate the aid flow as well as the need to protect civilian lives, and that Palestinians not be displaced to Egypt or elsewhere.
The two agreed to work together to set the conditions for a durable and sustainable peace in the Middle East to include the establishment of a Palestinian state, the White House reports.
Strikes on Lebanon, Syria
Israel said it hit targets in Syria and Lebanon. The attacks, the Israeli military said Monday, were in response to attacks launched from both countries.
Clashes on the Israel-Lebanon border escalated Sunday with Hezbollah saying it shot down an Israeli drone over southern Lebanon with a surface-to-air missile.
The drone was hit near Khiam, about 5 kilometers from the border with Israel, and was seen falling in Israeli territory, Hezbollah added. Two security sources in Lebanon said it was the first time Hezbollah had announced downing an Israeli drone.
Hamas and Hezbollah are U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Internet and aid delivery
Internet and phone connectivity were restored for many people on Sunday after this weekend’s bombardment knocked out most communications in the territory late Friday, largely cutting off the besieged enclave’s 2.3 million people from the world.
Almost three dozen aid trucks entered Gaza on Sunday, the largest aid convoy since the war between Israel and Hamas began.
Israel will allow more aid into Gaza in coming days, said Colonel Elad Goren of Cogat, the Israeli Defense Ministry agency that coordinates with the Palestinians.