Israeli Forces Surround Gaza City, Reject Ceasefire Appeals
Israeli Forces Surround Gaza City, Reject Ceasefire Appeals

The Israeli military has officially declared the encirclement of Gaza City, dismissing mounting international pleas for a ceasefire to end the violence in the besieged Palestinian region.

According to Daniel Hagari, the spokesperson for the Israeli military, Gaza City has been completely surrounded, a move that occurred nearly a week after Israeli forces expanded their ground operations within the Hamas-governed territory.

Hagari addressed the media, stating, "Israeli soldiers have successfully encircled Gaza City, the central hub of the Hamas terror organization."

On Thursday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had previously referred to the conflict with Hamas as entering its "second stage" amid a growing ground war, declared that Israeli forces were currently at the "height of the battle."

"We've achieved significant successes and have advanced beyond the outskirts of Gaza City," Netanyahu affirmed. "We are making progress."

In a separate statement on social media, Israel's military stated that its primary objectives were "to bring back the children, women, and men who are being held hostage by Hamas and to ensure that Hamas can no longer target Israelis."

In response, Hamas's military wing, the Qassam Brigades, issued a warning that Gaza would become "a dark chapter in Israel's history," and that Israeli soldiers entering the territory would return "in body bags."

Israel's announcement followed the expression of support for a humanitarian "pause" in the fighting by United States President Joe Biden. This pause is aimed at facilitating the release of captives held by Hamas.

White House officials later clarified that the Biden administration was not advocating for a full ceasefire but would work towards temporary, localized ceasefires to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the release of hostages.

On Thursday, seven UN special rapporteurs issued a statement urging an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, expressing their deep concern about the Palestinians facing a "grave risk of genocide."

Israel's assault on Gaza has faced mounting condemnation, particularly following successive airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza earlier in the week. These airstrikes resulted in the deaths of at least 195 people and left hundreds more wounded, according to officials within the Hamas-governed territory.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Wednesday, stated that the attacks could potentially constitute war crimes, citing the "high number of civilian casualties" and the extensive destruction at the refugee camp.

Israel maintained that the airstrikes targeted a Hamas commander and a "vast" network of tunnels beneath the camp's location.

Since the initiation of Israeli forces' bombardment of Gaza in response to Hamas's October 7 attacks on communities in southern Israel, at least 9,061 Palestinians have lost their lives. In Hamas's surprise attack, which included incursions by land, sea, and air, at least 1,405 people, predominantly civilians, were killed, according to Israeli authorities.

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