A senior Israeli official announced a series of "tactical localized pauses" aimed at providing temporary relief in certain areas of conflict. These pauses, set to last four hours, are designed to allow civilians in northern areas to move southwards, seeking aid and relief.
This announcement comes amid intense fighting and a significant movement of people fleeing the conflict zones. Israel's Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, emphasized that these pauses are not indicative of a ceasefire. The minister made it clear that combat operations in Gaza would continue unabated.
Gallant's stance aligns with statements from Israel's Prime Minister, asserting that there will be no ceasefire until the release of hostages held by Hamas. According to Israeli officials, there has been a considerable exodus from northern Gaza, with approximately 80,000 people moving through an evacuation corridor on Thursday alone.
This figure marks a significant increase from the 50,000 reported on Wednesday. However, these numbers, as reported by Israeli officials, have not been independently verified.
Ground Realities: Seizures and Casualties
In the backdrop of these pauses, Israel claims significant military achievements in Gaza.
Israeli forces reportedly captured a Hamas stronghold in northern Gaza after a grueling 10-hour battle, seizing weapons and uncovering tunnel shafts. An Israeli airstrike led to the death of a Hamas commander, and naval forces struck anti-tank missile launching posts in Gaza.
Hamas, on its part, has announced targeting Israeli forces in specific northern Gaza areas. The toll of the ongoing conflict is alarmingly high. As per the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, over 10,790 Palestinians, including 4,412 children and 2,918 women, have lost their lives in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.
The report also highlights casualties in the occupied West Bank, with 176 people killed and over 2,450 wounded.
Negotiating Hostage Releases
Amidst the chaos, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains a firm stance against a ceasefire without the release of Israeli hostages by Hamas.
A trilateral meeting involving Qatari officials and intelligence chiefs from Israel and the US took place in Doha to discuss potential hostage releases. The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza expressed readiness to release two Israeli hostages on humanitarian grounds.