The Israel Defense Forces have surrounded Gaza City, military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Thursday, days after Israel began expanding ground operations in the Palestinian enclave.
“Our troops have completed the encirclement of Gaza City, the center of Hamas activity,” Hagari said at a press conference, adding that a ceasefire is not “on the table.”
The move came as a group of UN experts warned Thursday that “time is running out to prevent genocide” in Gaza and U.S. President Joe Biden urged Israel to pause its military campaign to get hostages captured by Hamas out of Gaza.
The encirclement comes two days after the Israeli army launched a deadly airstrike on Gaza’s largest refugee camp, to target who they said was a senior Hamas military leader. The death toll from the attack is not known as of now, and Hamas has denied its leadership was at the camp.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to lead talks with Israeli officials on a potential “humanitarian pause” that would allow the U.S. to distribute aid and get hostages out. Biden said he was in favor of a pause but not a ceasefire.
The UN’s human right experts said Thursday that the Palestinian people were at “grave risk of genocide.”
Arab countries are also amplifying their opposition to Israel’s military campaign, with some recalling their ambassadors to Israel and freezing economic ties.