Jerusalem - Israel's military said its forces reached on Sunday the coast of Gaza City and encircled Hamas in the city, as the Palestinian death toll in the enclave rose to 9,770 amid Israel's relentless bombardment.
The Israeli military said in a statement that the armored 36th Division reached "positions along the coast of Gaza," and the troops were "encircling" Hamas forces in the city.
The military added that their goal is "to strike and destroy select targets, including significant assets and command and control centers belonging to the Hamas."
"The forces divided the Strip to Gaza-north and Gaza-south and control the shoreline," Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a briefing, adding that "massive attacks are currently being carried out in the northern Gaza Strip, including the killing of Hamas commanders."
Hagari repeated the calls to Gazans to evacuate themselves from northern Gaza through "a one-way corridor for civilians" to the south as more Israeli strikes are expected in the Gaza City.
Also on Sunday, Hagari demanded that Hamas stop the "systematic exploitation of medical facilities for terrorist activity." In a briefing in English, Hagari presented audio footage and images that he said were evidence that the Hamas underground infrastructure was embedded beneath hospitals located in the northern enclave.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced on Sunday that its fighters "trapped Israeli forces penetrating east of Khan Younis into a tight ambush after striking them with Al-Yassin 105 shells, heavy sniper weapons, medium weapons, and mortar shells, which led to the destruction of two tanks."
As the conflict has continued for 30 days, Israeli strikes killed at least 9,770 people and injured at least 24,808 others, the Gaza-based health ministry said in a statement.
Internet and telephone lines were cut again in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian communication company Paltel said in a statement. The blackout marked the third time that the communication in the enclave was cut off since the beginning of the conflict.
Meanwhile, Iran confirmed on Sunday that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the Iranian capital Tehran, without specifying the date of the meeting.
During the meeting, Haniyeh presented a report of the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as well as the Israeli "crimes" against the coastal enclave, according to a statement published on the leader's website on Sunday, while Khamenei stressed Iran's "permanent policy" of supporting the Palestinian resistance forces against Israel.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday that the logistic difficulties imposed by Israel and its repeated bombing of the Rafah border crossing delayed the delivery of aid to the besieged Gaza Strip and placed additional burdens on Egypt.
Earlier in the day, Egypt sent 75 trucks loaded with food, water, and medical supplies through the Rafah crossing to Gaza, raising the total number of aid trucks sent to the enclave since Oct. 21 to nearly 500, a security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Confrontations on the Israel-Lebanon border continued on Sunday, killing two Hezbollah fighters and four civilians while injuring five others on the Lebanese side, local media reported. Lebanese military sources told Xinhua the Israeli army expanded its military operations to areas outside the borderline in southern Lebanon, in a remarkable escalation that came in the wake of Hezbollah's use of new surface-to-surface missiles.
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