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Israel Expands Ground War Into Gaza Refugee Camps

Israel took its Gaza operation this morning directly into the refugee camps in the densely populated central part of Gaza. According to The Associated Press, local residents reported shelling and airstrikes shaking the Nuseirat, Maghazi and Bureij camps. The camps are now crowded with Palestinians who fled northern Gaza in the early stages of Israel’s ground offensive.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi announced yesterday that the military would be expanding its operations in southern and central Gaza as, he claimed, it is close to dismantling all of Hamas’s battalions in the northern part of the Strip, but warned that the war will last “many more months.”

“We eliminated many terrorists and commanders, some of them surrendered to our forces and we took hundreds of prisoners. We destroyed many underground infrastructures and weapons,” Halevi said in a press conference in southern Israel. However, he warned that in “this dense urban area, where terrorists are dressed as civilians, it cannot be said that we killed all of them.”

Halevi said that the military was concentrating its efforts in the south of the Strip while continuing to “preserve and deepen the achievement” in northern Gaza.

This morning, the IDF reported three more casualties among its troops, bringing its death toll to 164. The three were killed in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood where “Hamas’s battalion is believed to be largely defeated,” reported the Times of Israel.