With the war entering its seventh week, there was no sign of any let-up despite international calls for a ceasefire or at least for humanitarian pauses.
“We have prepared ourselves for a long and sustained defence from all directions. The more time the occupation’s forces stay in Gaza, the heavier their continuous losses,” Abu Ubaida, Hamas armed wing spokesman, said in a video statement.
Amid warnings that its siege would cause starvation and disease, Israel on Friday appeared to bow to international pressure, agreeing to allow fuel trucks into Gaza and promising “no limitation” on aid requested by the United Nations.
Israel said it would allow two truckloads of fuel a day at the request of Washington to help the United Nations meet basic needs, and spoke of plans to increase aid more broadly.
“We will increase the capacity of the humanitarian convoys and trucks as long as there is a need,” Colonel Elad Goren, from COGAT, the ministry of defence agency that coordinates administrative issues with the Palestinians, told a briefing.
While Israel has promised to allow in aid in the past, the remarks appeared to signal a shift in tone after UN agencies warned that humanitarian conditions in Gaza were rapidly deteriorating, including a stark warning from the World Food Programme of the “immediate possibility of starvation”.
At Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al Shifa, Israel said its forces had found in two days of searching a vehicle with a large number of weapons and an underground structure it called a Hamas tunnel shaft.
The facility has been a primary target of Israel’s ground assault and a focus of international alarm over the deepening humanitarian crisis.