Israel has begun its ground operation of southern Gaza, according to reports.
Satellite imagery showed troops and tanks had advanced into the south on Monday, The New York Times reported. Israeli airstrikes also hit the south amid the expanding ground offensive, killing and wounding dozens of residents, Reuters reported.
The satellite footage showed that IDF troops had reached a position just north of the city of Khan Younis, where Israel believes Hamas’s leadership is located.
Israel had previously told Gazans to evacuate to the south to escape its bombardment of the north, most of which is now decimated.
The Israeli military did not directly comment on the expansion, which was expected in recent days.
The World Health Organization said Monday that the IDF had instructed them to remove all supplies from its medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours as the ground operations “will put it beyond use.” The Israeli army later denied WHO’s claim.
Israel and Hamas had agreed to a temporary ceasefire starting Nov. 24 that led to the release of several hostages and transfer of aid into Gaza, but it expired last week after negotiations broke down.
The View From The U.S.
American officials have urged Israel to take steps to protect civilians and avoid amassing the same high civilian death toll seen in the north.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a speech in California that, “The lesson is that you can only win in urban warfare by protecting civilians.”
Senior U.S. officials said Monday that it was too early to assess whether Israel was following that advice, Reuters reported, though a State Department spokesperson called some aspects of the southern Gaza offensive an “improvement.”