(CTN News) – As the Israeli military increased its land and air assault on the embattled Gaza Strip, tanks momentarily approached the boundaries of Gaza City.
On Monday, Palestinian sources said Al Jazeera that Israeli tanks had advanced to within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of Salah al-Din Street, in the centre of the Gaza City governorate. There were reports of intense fighting.
Witnesses informed AFP news journalists in southern Gaza via phone that tanks had infiltrated the Zaytun region south of the Palestinian territory’s major metropolis, blocking a key thoroughfare from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip for more than an hour.
“They have cut the Salah al-Din road and are firing at any vehicle that tries to go along it,” one local stated.
Several miles away, Al Jazeera’s Safwat Kahlout reported seeing “plumes of smoke” rising from the area where the tanks were claimed to be.
Large craters were left in the road after Israeli jets hit it, an eyewitness said AFP. Al Jazeera’s cameras caught a tank destroying a car on the street. Three persons were killed in the incident, according to medical authorities in the Palestinian territories.
Israeli tanks retreated from the boundaries of Gaza City, according to Salama Maarouf, chief of the Hamas administrative office in Gaza, later on Monday.
Inside Gaza City’s neighborhoods, there has been zero ground advance. Salah al-Din Street was invaded by a few tanks and a bulldozer from the occupation force,” Maarouf stated in a statement.
Two civilian vehicles were bulldozed on Salah al-Din Street before the opposition could push the vehicles back. Normal traffic and pedestrian activity had resumed on Salah al-Din Road, he reported, citing the absence of occupation army vehicles.
According to sources, the tanks only lingered for over an hour before traffic resumed, driving onto the shoulder where craters had rendered the road impassable.
As part of the military response to the Hamas strikes on October 7, Israeli forces have increased their ground operations since Friday, killing 1,400 individuals, mostly civilians, and capturing 239.
Since then, Israeli air and ground operations have reportedly killed over 8,000 people in Gaza, the vast majority of whom were civilians and of whom over half were children, according to the health ministry there.
On Monday, one of the most intensive days of the battle, the Israeli military reported striking more than 600 targets in 24 hours, up from 450 the day before.
As Israel continues its quest to “destroy” Hamas, the party that administers the embattled Palestinian enclave, it has repeatedly advised the 1.1 million residents residing in northern Gaza, including Gaza City, to move south to avoid its military strikes. However, the bombing keeps going on, and locals claim there are no safe escape routes.
Although many have fled in recent weeks, it is estimated that tens of thousands remain in the zone.
They “barricaded themselves inside buildings and tunnels and attempted to attack the troops,” the Israeli army claimed, killing “dozens” of Hamas fighters overnight in the ensuing fighting.
When the Israeli military believed there were “over 20 Hamas terrorist operatives inside” a building, they sent a fighter plane there. Another fighter jet was directed at an antitank missile launching point near al-Azhar University. The campus is located smack dab in the middle of Gaza City.
As for “weapons depots,” “dozens of anti-tank missile launching positions,” and “hideouts and staging grounds used by the Hamas terrorist organisation,” all of these were reportedly struck by the Israeli force.