The Israeli military said Sunday night that troops had surrounded Gaza City and were prepared to strike the north, as it warned Gazans to flee south ahead of the attack.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari also said the military has divided the Gaza Strip into two, in remarks at a briefing reported by The Associated Press.
“Today there is north Gaza and south Gaza,” Hagari said to reporters, according to the AP, which reported that Hagari called the step a “significant stage” in its war against Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization. Hamas is the governing authority in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli media are reporting that strikes are expected within 48 hours, the AP reported. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) quoted IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi reiterating the troops’ readiness to fight.
“We have a clear goal of restoring a significantly better security situation at the borders, not only in the Gaza Strip,” Halevi said during a meeting in the Northern Command, according to the IDF post.
“We are ready to strike in the north at any moment,” Halevi added.
The Jerusalem Press reported that an IDF spokesperson told CNN on Sunday that Israel has stopped firing for “several hours” in order to try to create safe passage for civilians to move south.
“Yesterday and today, for many hours with prior notice and warning, we facilitated, we stopped firing in certain areas of northern Gaza, which is the main combat area, and we called on Palestinians to move south,” Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said to CNN, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The development comes as Israel readies for the next stage of the war and has begun ground operations into Gaza.
Significant international pressure continues to build to call for Israel to cease its bombardment of airstrikes, which the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza has estimated have killed nearly 10,000 Palestinians.
The recent war began when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel’s southern border, slaughtering 1,400 Israelis and taking about 240 hostage. Israeli officials have said they would not agree to a cease-fire or humanitarian pause in fighting until all of the hostages have returned.
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