Israel’s military has effectively cut Gaza in two, with its ground operations and fiercest aerial bombardment apparently concentrated in the north, forcing thousands of Palestinians to flee south on foot to escape the fighting.
Israel launched its military campaign with the stated aim of destroying Palestinian militant group Hamas and to save the more than 240 hostages taken during the militant group’s brutal October 7 attack, which killed over 1,400 people.
The offensive has so far killed more than 10,700 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, which draws on sources in the Hamas-controlled territory. Streams of Palestinians – including women, children and the elderly – are making their way south in a growing exodus along daily evacuation corridors announced by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Global calls for a halt to the fighting are growing more urgent, in hopes of alleviating the humanitarian crisis. More than half of Gaza’s two million civilians have been displaced from their homes. Basic necessities like food, water, fuel and medical supplies are running out. The majority of hospitals have stopped functioning, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The urban warfare also appears to be getting more complex, with Israeli troops having to contend with Hamas’ elaborate tunnel system and the threat of ambushes. Propaganda videos recently released by Hamas and analyzed by CNN demonstrate how complicated and elaborate the fighting has quickly become.
Here’s what we know about the battle for Gaza City.
What is Israel’s strategy?
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday that IDF troops are at “the heart of Gaza City,” and “tightening the noose” on the urban center in the north of the enclave, targeting Hamas infrastructure and commanders there.
Gallant said that the Israeli soldiers “came from north and south and stormed in coordination with our air force and navy.”
Since the IDF launched its ground offensive into Gaza almost two weeks ago, its troops have pushed forward on three axes – from Gaza’s northwest border along the Mediterranean coast, from the northeast near Beit Hanoun, and from east to west, along the south of Gaza City towards the coast – in an effort to drive a wedge through the center of the strip, cleaving it in half.
On Monday, an IDF spokesperson told CNN that the Israeli military was moving toward Gaza City, which he said the Israeli military had encircled since reaching Gaza’s coast on Sunday.
“This whole city is one big terror base. Underground, they have kilometers of tunnels connecting to hospitals and schools,” Gallant claimed. “We continue to dismantle this capability.”
Danny Orbach, a military historian from the Hebrew Univers