ISRAELI military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said his country had surrounded Gaza main city, nearly a week after expanding ground operations in the area.
Hagari disclosed this at a press briefing on Thursday, November 2.
“Israeli soldiers have completed the encirclement of the city of Gaza, the centre of the Hamas terror organisation,” he said.
This comes shortly after the United States (U.S.) announced that its Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, would visit Israel on Friday, November 3, for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller, Blinken’s visit is aimed at reiterating support for Israel and discussing the need for precautions to minimise civilian casualties.
The U.S. President Joe Biden earlier hinted at the need for a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Gaza war on Wednesday, November 1, which the White House later explained to mean temporary stops in fighting to allow the aid and release of hostages and not a full ceasefire as suggested by the United Nations.
However, during the press briefing on Thursday, Hagari rejected calls for a ceasefire, saying the option is “currently not on the table at all.”
The current fighting between Israel and Gaza began on October 7, when terror organisation Hamas carried out a surprise attack on Southern Israel during a major Jewish holiday, leaving about 250 dead and 1,500 injured. The group also took several others hostage.
The attack was described as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood by the head of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif.
He said the attack was a reaction to Israel’s 16-year blockade of Gaza, raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, violence at Al Aqsa, increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians and the growth of settlements.
Following the attacks, Netanyahu said the Israeli military would use all of its strength to destroy Hamas’ capabilities.
Israel had retaliated in a bloody bombardment of Hamas, and at least 9,000 Palestinians have been killed as a result. The country also stopped all fuel, electricity, food and essential supplies into Gaza as part of its war strategies.
Israel also cut off telecommunications and internet services despite warnings by humanitarian agencies that such moves would severely disrupt their activities.
The assault on Gaza has come under further criticism, especially since Israeli forces carried out repeated airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, leaving more than 195 civilians dead, according to Hamas.
The UN Human Rights Office described the attacks on refugees as “disproportionate” and a move likely to “amount to war crimes”.
However, Israel has ignored the criticisms and calls for a ceasefire.