Tensions have escalated in the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict as Israeli tanks are moving toward the southern border with Gaza, raising the possibility of an imminent ground assault in the coastal enclave. This development follows the evacuation order issued to one million residents of Gaza City, directing them to move south, indicating that Israeli troops may enter from the north.
Gaza shares its boundaries with Egypt in the south, which remains blocked, and with Israel in the north and east. On the ground near the border fence separating Gaza City from Israel, several tanks and armored vehicles, including Namer Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Merkava IV tanks equipped with defense systems, have been stationed, as witnessed by an NDTV reporting crew.
The massive military deployment comes after Israeli forces suggested the presence of Palestinian Hamas group’s hideouts in underground tunnels and buildings housing civilians within Gaza City. Israel’s stated objective is to dismantle the military capabilities of Hamas, eliminating any future threats from the group.
An Israeli ground assault would mark one week since the conflict’s outbreak, with Hamas launching a barrage of rockets that targeted Israeli border towns. In response, Israel conducted airstrikes in Gaza, targeting structures it claimed harbored Hamas operatives.
However, the densely populated Gaza Strip, characterized by buildings and narrow streets, presents formidable challenges for tanks and armored vehicles. The rubble from bombed-out structures further complicates maneuvering through Gaza City. The presence of hostages in the area adds another layer of complexity.
The Israeli military has framed the evacuation order as necessary for the personal safety of civilians, stating that their forces will commence operations in the coming days due to the presence of Hamas operatives in the city’s underground tunnels. Hamas has rejected the evacuation order.
The United Nations, which has relocated its operations to the south, has issued a warning about the potentially “devastating” consequences of mass displacement in Gaza City. Emphasizing the safety of civilians, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has urged Gaza residents to distance themselves from Hamas, asserting that they do not consider civilians their enemies and do not intend to target them.
As the situation in the region remains fluid and fraught with tensions, the potential for further escalations and their impacts on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians remains a matter of grave concern.
Sources By Agencies