Escalating Conflict: Israeli Forces and Hamas Clash in Gaza as Thousands Flee

A Palestinian woman holds a white flag as civilians from Gaza Strip's north flee toward the south on Tuesday. (Ahmed Zakot/Reuters)

Intensified Israeli Military Campaign Targets Hamas Tunnels; Mass Exodus from Gaza City Amid Humanitarian Crisis

Gaza City is witnessing some of the most intense clashes since the conflict escalated a month ago, with Israeli forces targeting Hamas’ intricate tunnel network beneath the densely populated Palestinian enclave. Thousands of Palestinians, facing a dire shortage of essentials, have embarked on a perilous journey on foot, fleeing towards the less affected southern regions.

The Israeli military announced the killing of a top Hamas weapons maker, Mahsein Abu Zina, and several fighters, as it presses on with a campaign that has claimed over 10,000 Palestinian lives, 40 percent of whom are children, according to Gaza health officials. Meanwhile, Israel mourns the loss of 32 soldiers. The civilian toll includes an unprecedented number of women and minors, intensifying calls for humanitarian intervention.

Israeli soldiers have been advancing towards the heart of the city, which was home to 650,000 people before the war and is Hamas’ stronghold in the north of the Gaza Strip

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant asserted, “We have one target — Hamas terrorists in Gaza, their infrastructure, their commanders, bunkers, communications rooms.” These sentiments were echoed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated, “We are increasing pressure on Hamas every hour, every day. So far, we have killed thousands of terrorists, above ground and below ground.”

The IDF has made significant advancements into Gaza City, a Hamas stronghold, with Chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari explaining, “Combat engineers are using explosive devices to destroy a tunnel network built by Hamas that stretches for hundreds of kilometres beneath Gaza.”

Israeli troops are battling Hamas terrorists deep inside Gaza city, according to the IDF, as thousands of Palestinians flee south on foot with only what they can carry. Above, an Israeli A Merkava tank is seen operating in the north of Gaza city

Gaza City, home to over 650,000 residents before the war, has been encircled by Israeli forces, causing unprecedented displacement. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that nearly two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are internally displaced, with about 15,000 people fleeing the northern part of the region on Tuesday alone.

Residents face harrowing conditions, with the last functioning bakeries shutting down for lack of fuel, water, and flour, and hospitals running low on supplies. “The situation is getting worse day after day,” shared Um Haitham Hejela, a local resident seeking refuge at Al Shifa hospital. “There is no food, no water. They struck bakeries, we don’t have bread.”

As the Israeli military tightens its grip on the city, fears for the more than 240 hostages held by Hamas and other militant groups are mounting. The humanitarian situation has become increasingly desperate, with Israeli officials saying that thousands of Palestinian militants have been killed, while blaming civilian deaths on Hamas for operating in residential areas. Hamas, however, denies that Israeli troops have made any significant gains or entered Gaza City.

Evacuating residents pass a destroyed building following in northern Gaza, November 7

Despite the suffering, support for the war remains strong within Israel. However, the international community, including the United States, has expressed opposition to any reoccupation of Gaza. The U.S. has suggested that a revitalized Palestinian Authority could govern the region, but this is contingent on a comprehensive political solution involving Palestinian statehood, a prospect Israel staunchly opposes.

The war has not only affected Gaza but has also led to over 250,000 Israelis evacuating from communities along the borders with Gaza and Lebanon, showcasing the widespread impact of the conflict.

The international outcry is growing as humanitarian agencies struggle to cope with the needs of the displaced. Humanitarian aid, although trickling in from Egypt, remains insufficient to meet the escalating needs. With the war entering its second month and no ceasefire in sight, the region braces for further turmoil.