GAZA STRIP: Israeli forces on Thursday advanced their campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza, fighting gun battles and taking control of an important port a day after a raid on the territory’s main hospital.
The ground campaign has taken aim at important sites like Gaza government buildings and infrastructure, but also the Al-Shifa hospital that Israel says sits atop a command centre of Hamas — a charge the group denies.
The Israeli military said Thursday it had taken “operational control” of the port at Gaza City in the territory’s north, showing at least a dozen tanks and groups of soldiers massed on the coast close to Gaza City, according to AFP.
Israel has concentrated its ground offensive and heavy bombardment in Gaza City, announcing this week the seizure of the Hamas police headquarters, parliament building, and government offices.
Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas in retaliation for the attacks of 7 October, which killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.
The Israeli military says that fifty-one of its troops have been killed in Gaza since the war started.
But with the Hamas-run health ministry saying the death toll has now topped 11,500, including thousands of minors, calls for a truce are mounting.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, on an Israel trip on Thursday, urged for the hostages to be immediately freed, but also called from Israel “not to be consumed by rage” in its war with Hamas.
Both Israel and its top ally the US say Hamas has built tunnels below the Al-Shifa hospital, which has become a focal point in the fighting.
The Palestinian group and directors at the hospital have denied the accusation, and Hamas also rejected reports of weapons being at the facility.