Israeli ground forces are closing in on Gaza City, the largest and most densely packed population center in the Palestinian enclave, satellite imagery and videos from open and official sources suggest.
CNN’s analysis of the imagery helps shed light on what is happening on the ground as the Israel Defense Forces claims it has encircled the city.
“IDF forces encircle Gaza from the air, land and sea, surrounding the city of Gaza and its surroundings,” Daniel Hagari, an IDF spokesperson, said Friday. “The fighters are advancing in battles, during which they are destroying above-ground and underground terrorist infrastructures and eliminate terrorists.”
Since the IDF launched its ground offensive into Gaza a week ago, marking the latest phase of its war against Hamas, 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 – in an apparent effort to divide the strip into two.
Israeli troops have moved deeper along that western stretch, towards the sea, according to European Space Agency satellite imagery from Wednesday, which indicated the forces were within about a kilometer of completely encircling Gaza City.
While the imagery is low-resolution, it appears to show the tracks from heavy armored vehicles snaking across the strip, south of the urban center, nearly reaching the coast.
Videos showing Israel’s advance south of Gaza City have yet to surface, but footage shared by the IDF and circulating on social media in recent days showed Israeli troops had moved in the northernmost communities in Gaza – Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Atatra – and were sitting on the perimeter of Gaza City from the north.
Satellite imagery and footage have also shown Israeli forces on Salah al-Din Road, a highway running the length of the strip, seemingly blocking anyone still in Gaza City from moving south. A video that surfaced Monday, filmed by freelance Palestinian journalist Yousif Al Saifi, showed an Israeli tank opening fire on a car on the road.