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Israel says it encircles Gaza City

Gaza, November 03 2023, The Europe Today: Israel said it had surrounded the Gaza Strip’s biggest city and the focus of its drive to annihilate Hamas, as the United States was set to press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to pauses in fighting to allow aid into the Palestinian enclave.

With the conflict nearing the end of its fourth week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to visit Israel for the second time in a month to meet Netanyahu as Israel’s military battled Hamas, who fought back with hit-and-run attacks from underground tunnels.

“We’re at the height of the battle. We’ve had impressive successes and have passed the outskirts of Gaza City. We are advancing,” Netanyahu said in a statement after the military said it had encircled the seaside enclave’s main city.

As Blinken left Washington for the Middle East, he said he would discuss concrete steps to minimise harm to civilians in Gaza. The White House, meanwhile, said any pauses in fighting should be temporary and localised, and insisted they would not stop Israel defending itself.

Mounting casualties among Palestinian civilians, along with acute shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel, have intensified calls by global leaders for a pause in fighting or a ceasefire.

Israel has dismissed those calls, saying it targets Hamas fighters whom it accuses of intentionally hiding among the population and civilian buildings. The White House has also rejected calls for a ceasefire.

Gaza health authorities say at least 9,061 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its assault on the enclave of 2.3 million people.