Northern Gaza severed from South

Palestinians flee the southern Gaza Strip on Salah al-Din street in Bureij on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
Palestinians flee the southern Gaza Strip on Salah al-Din street in Bureij on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. AP

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Israeli troops early Monday had surrounded Gaza City and cut off the northern part of the besieged Hamas-ruled territory as communications lost for several hours across Gaza overnight were being restored.

Troops are expected to enter the city Monday or Tuesday, Israeli media reported, and militants who have prepared for years are expected to fight street by street using a vast network of tunnels. Casualties will likely rise on both sides in the month-old war, which has already killed more than 9,700 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Some 1.5 million Palestinians, or around 70 percent of the population, have fled their homes since the war began with a bloody Hamas incursion into Israel that killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians. Food, medicine, fuel and water are running low, and U.N.-run schools-turned-shelters are beyond capacity, with many sleeping on the streets outside.

Israel has so far rejected U.S. suggestions for a pause in fighting to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries and the release of some of the estimated 240 captives seized by Hamas in its Oct. 7 raid. Israel has also dismissed calls for a broader cease-fire from increasingly alarmed Arab countries — including Jordan and Egypt, which made peace with it decades ago.

In another sign of widening unrest, a Palestinian man stabbed and wounded two members of Israel’s paramilitary Border Police in east Jerusalem before being shot dead, according to police and an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with Gaza and the West Bank, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want all three territories for a future state. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized by most of the international community and considers the entire city its capital.

Medical aid

A Jordanian military cargo plane air-dropped medical aid to a field hospital in northern Gaza, King Abdullah II said early Monday. It appeared to be the first such airdrop of the war, raising the possibility of another avenue for aid delivery besides Egypt’s Rafah crossing with Gaza.

The situation remains dire in the north. Some 800,000 people have heeded Israeli military orders to flee to southern Gaza, even though Israel had continued airstrikes in the area. Strikes in central and southern Gaza — the purported safe zone — killed at least 53 people on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands remain in Gaza City and other parts of the north. Some 2,000 people, many carrying only what they could hold in their arms, walked down Gaza’s main north-south highway on Sunday during an hourslong window in which the military had encouraged them to flee.

One man said they walked 500 meters with their hands raised while passing Israeli troops. Another described seeing bodies along the road. “The children saw tanks for the first time. Oh world, have mercy on us,” said one Palestinian man, who declined to give his name.

A majority of Gaza’s population are the descendants of Palestinian refugees who fled or were driven out of Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. Palestinians refer to their exodus as the Nakba, or catastrophe, and many fear a repeat as hundreds of thousands are displaced by the latest war.

The Israeli military said late Sunday that it had severed northern Gaza from the south, calling it a “significant stage” in the war. It said a one-way corridor for residents to flee south would remain available.

The military says 30 troops have been killed since the ground offensive began over a week ago. Palestinian militants have continued firing rockets into Israel, disrupting daily life even as most are intercepted or fall in open areas. Tens of thousands of Israelis have evacuated from communities near the volatile borders with Gaza and Lebanon.

The military said Monday that aircraft struck 450 targets overnight and took over a Hamas compound. It also said it had killed a senior Hamas militant, identified as Jamal Mussa, who had allegedly carried out a shooting attack against Israeli soldiers in Gaza in 1993.

Communications lost

Communications in Gaza went down late Sunday for the third time in the war, according to the internet access advocacy group and the Palestinian telecom company Paltel. Aid workers say the outages make it even harder for civilians to seek safety or even call ambulances.

The first Gaza outage lasted 36 hours, coinciding with the ground invasion, and the second one for a few hours. Paltel and NetBlocks said mobile phone and internet service was restored on Monday.

Food, water and the fuel needed for generators that power hospitals are running low. Gaza’s sole power station was forced to shut down shortly after the war broke out and Israel has allowed no fuel to enter, saying Hamas would steal it for military purposes.


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