Smoke was seen rising over Gaza on Tuesday morning as Israeli airstrikes continued and the military expanded its incursion deeper into the northern part of the besieged territory.
The UN and medical staff also expressed fears over airstrikes hitting closer to hospitals, where tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought shelter alongside thousands of wounded.
The movements of recent days, including larger ground operations both north and east of Gaza City, point to a focus on the city.
Israel has been launching relentless airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an October 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 Israelis, according to officials.
Hamas also reportedly took 320 hostages, the officials said.
The militants allegedly blew through Israel’s heavily fortified separation wall and attacked an open-air music festival and Israeli towns near the border with Gaza.
Israel has in turn killed at least 8,306 Palestinians, more than half of whom are children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.
In the occupied West Bank – where Hamas has no control – Israeli raids and settlers’ violence have killed more than 110 Palestinians.
Netanyahu rejects calls for ceasefire
Despite calls from international leaders and human rights groups, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that a ceasefire in the Gaza war “will not happen” as it would amount to surrendering to the territory’s rulers Hamas.
Netanyahu also told a press conference that other countries must give more help in the struggle to free more than 230 hostages kidnapped by Hamas.
“Calls for a ceasefire are a call for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. This will not happen.”
Vowing that Israel would “fight until this battle is won,” Netanyahu said the army was going out of its way to “prevent civilian casualties” in Gaza.
However, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday warned the situation in Gaza was declining rapidly, saying Israeli airstrikes have killed thousands of innocent civilians.
Guterres repeated desperate appeals for a ceasefire to end the “nightmare” of bloodshed.
“The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations,” Guterres said on a visit to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
“The number of civilians who have been killed and injured is totally unacceptable.”