Israeli forces besieged Gaza City, the Gaza Strip’s main city, in an attack on Hamas on Thursday, but the Palestinian militant group countered their operation with hit-and-run attacks from underground tunnels, the military said.
The city in the north of the Gaza Strip has become the center of attack for Israel, which has vowed to destroy the Islamic group’s command structure and told civilians to flee south.
“We are at the height of the battle. We have had impressive successes and have passed the outskirts of Gaza City. We are advancing,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. He did not give any further details.
Amid heavy explosions in Gaza, Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters that his country’s troops have completed the siege of Gaza City, the center point of the Hamas terrorist organization.
Brigadier General Iddo Mizrahi, head of Israel’s military engineers, said troops were facing landmines and booby traps.
“Hamas has learned and prepared itself well,” he said.
Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, said in a televised speech on Thursday that the Israeli death toll in Gaza was much higher than the military had announced. He said, “Your soldiers will return in black bags.”