With the Israel-Hamas war a day away from marking a month since it began, Israel’s military announced late Sunday that it had encircled Gaza City and divided it into two. The besieged strip came under the third total communications outage since the start of the war. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, met with the Palestinian President, followed by a surprise visit to Iraq.
Gaza came under "unprecedented bombardment" from Israel on Sunday, as Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the Gaza City is now divided into two parts. "Today there is north Gaza and south Gaza”, he said, calling it a “significant stage” in Israel’s war against Hamas. Israeli media said that Israeli troops were expected to enter Gaza City within 48 hours, while strong explosions were reported in northern Gaza after nightfall.
All communications and internet services were shut down in Gaza on Sunday for the third time since the war began. The “collapse in connectivity” was reported by internet access advocacy group NetBlocks.org and confirmed by Palestinian telecom company Paltel. The first communication outage in Gaza had lasted 36 hours and the second one for a few hours.
Israel yet again dismissed the escalating international calls for a ceasefire, as it stated that its forces had successfully surrounded Gaza City. The development came even as Blinken is making efforts to manage the crisis that poses a risk of further escalation in the adjacent country of Lebanon.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his diplomatic efforts amid the ongoing war, went to the occupied West Bank on Sunday. He met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and tried to assure him that the Biden administration was intensifying efforts to ease the plight of Gaza’s civilians. He also asserted the stance that Palestinians must have a main say in whatever comes next for their territory after the conflict.
Blinken later flew to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, amid the rising concerns about American forces in the region facing a surge of attacks by Iranian-allied militias in Iraq and elsewhere. Blinken further traveled to Turkey from Baghdad.
Earlier on Sunday, Israeli warplanes struck two refugee camps, killing at least 53 people and wounding dozens in central Gaza. This is the zone where Israel’s military had urged Palestinian civilians to seek refuge. Israel said it would press on with its offensive to crush Hamas, despite US appeals for even brief pauses to get aid to desperate civilians.
The Hamas-run health ministry said at least 9,770 people had been killed in more than four weeks of war in Gaza. The operation started after the militants killed more than 1,400 people and took over 240 hostages in the deadliest attack in Israel's history.
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