Israeli forces continued to push into Khan Younis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sunday, where thousands of people were taking refuge after fleeing the deadly bombardments in other parts of the enclave.
Ground, aerial and naval forces struck more than 250 locations in Gaza over the past day, according to a statement released by the army.
Israel continued to intensify its firepower in Gaza, including the deployment of artillery into the densely populated 365 square km enclave, in which vast areas have been leveled by the Israeli bombardments. “For the first time since the beginning of ground operations, the Artillery Corps is operating inside the Gaza Strip,” the army said.
In a video statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “dozens” of Hamas fighters have surrendered in recent days. “They are laying down their weapons and handing themselves over to our heroic fighters,” Netanyahu said.
He urged other militants to follow suit. “It is over. Don’t die for Sinwar (Hamas leader in Gaza). Surrender — now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for Al-Qassam, the armed wing of Hamas, said “Israel’s repeated declarations of aiming to eliminate resistance are mere rhetoric … it will not succeed on the ground.”
He said that since the resumption of hostilities ten days ago after a temporary humanitarian ceasefire, Al-Qassam fighters have completely or partially destroyed 180 Israeli military vehicles, including armored carriers, tanks, and bulldozers.
He also announced carrying out multiple operations that “resulted in a significant number of casualties and injuries within the ranks of the Israeli occupation.”
Also on Sunday, Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked over the phone about the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, Netanyahu’s office said.
Netanyahu requested that Russia apply pressure on the Red Cross regarding visits and essential medicines for hostages held in Gaza.
The executive board of the World Health Organization adopted a resolution addressing the deteriorating health crisis in Gaza, urging for prompt and unrestricted humanitarian access.
The resolution, proposed by Afghanistan, Morocco, Qatar and Yemen, expressed “grave concern at the catastrophic humanitarian situation” in Gaza. It urged protection for all civilians and aid workers. It also warned of “long-lasting impacts” of attacks on medical personnel and “the large-scale destruction of health facilities including hospitals and ambulances.”
The Hamas-run health ministry said on Sunday that the death toll from the Israeli attack in Gaza had risen to at least 17,997, and the injuries to 49,500.
According to Israeli figures, about 1,200 people in Israel were killed during the Hamas surprise attack on Oct. 7 that triggered the conflict. The Israeli soldiers killed in the ground offensive in Gaza reached 97 and another 559 have been wounded, according to the figures released by the Israeli army on Sunday.