Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza early Monday, including in areas where Palestinian civilians have been told to seek refuge, after another small aid shipment was allowed into the besieged Hamas-ruled territory.
Israel has still not allowed any fuel to enter Gaza, where there has been a power blackout for nearly two weeks. Hospitals say they are scrounging for generator fuel in order to keep operating life-saving medical equipment and incubators for premature babies.
Israel is widely expected to launch a ground offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israeli communities. Tanks and troops have been massed at the Gaza border, and Israel says it has stepped up airstrikes in order to reduce the risk to troops in the next stages.
Fears of a widening war have grown as Israeli warplanes have struck targets in the occupied West Bank, Syria and Lebanon in recent days. It has frequently traded fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is armed with tens of thousands of rockets.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told troops in northern Israel on Sunday that if Hezbollah launches a war, “it will make the mistake of its life. We will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine, and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state will be devastating.”
Hezbollah’s political movement is part of Lebanon’s fractious government, but its fighters operate outside the state’s control. Israel heavily bombed Beirut’s airport and civilian infrastructure during a 2006 war with Hezbollah. Israel is meanwhile evacuating some communities on its own side of the border.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israeli forces had wiped out eight militant cells in Lebanon over the past 24 hours and more than 20 since the start of the war, without elaborating.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed — mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack. At least 222 people were captured and dragged back to Gaza, including foreigners. Two Americans were released Friday, hours before the first shipment of humanitarian aid.
More than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. That includes the disputed toll from a hospital explosion.
Israel has carried out limited ground forays into Gaza, and on Sunday, Hamas said it had destroyed an Israeli tank and two armored bulldozers inside the territory it has ruled since 2007. The Israeli military said a soldier was killed and three others were wounded by an anti-tank missile during a raid inside Gaza.
The military said the raid was part of efforts to rescue hostages abducted in the Oct. 7 attack. Hamas hopes to trade the captives for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.