Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have intensified their military operations within Gaza City, claiming to have the senior leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, surrounded in a bunker, as the month-long conflict between Israel and the militant group reaches a new height.
According to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF troops have infiltrated the heart of Gaza City from both the north and south, coordinating attacks by land, air, and sea. Gallant stated that Sinwar is cut off from his surroundings, with the chain of command within Hamas weakening. This move comes after Sinwar’s alleged orchestration of the Oct. 7 attacks that left 1,400 Israelis dead, including several Canadians, and over 200 kidnapped. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since labeled Sinwar a “dead man walking”.
In a show of force, Israeli troops have been maneuvering on foot, with armored vehicles and tanks, targeting Hamas terrorists, their infrastructure, and command centers. Israel has declared the militant group’s network, which includes tunnels running under schools and hospitals, as their primary target.
Despite Israel’s four-hour window permitting civilians to flee to the southern region of Gaza, residents have reported sightings of tanks and casualties while evacuating. The Israeli military claims that their operation represents a significant stage in the war, launched after a surprise attack by Hamas in early October.
The military operation has come under scrutiny due to the high number of civilian casualties. Palestinian health officials have reported over 10,000 deaths, nearly 40% of them children. United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Volker Turk has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, condemning the “incessant suffering, bloodshed, destruction, outrage, and despair” witnessed over the last month.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has confirmed the safe crossing of 75 Canadians and family members into Egypt, as international concern over the humanitarian crisis grows. The Biden administration has advocated for humanitarian pauses but has stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, fearing it would benefit Hamas strategically.
Regional leaders, including Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and UAE’s diplomatic adviser Anwar Gargash, have expressed urgency for a ceasefire, signaling a growing divide with U.S. policy.
While Israel has been vague about its long-term intentions for Gaza, Netanyahu has hinted at a desire for Israel to maintain security responsibility over the region indefinitely, a stance opposed by U.S. President Joe Biden.
The ICRC has reported attacks on their humanitarian convoys, raising alarms over the safety of aid workers. With diplomatic discussions ongoing, the prospect of a multinational force or temporary UN supervision in Gaza post-conflict is being considered.