New Delhi, Nov 7: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have surrounded Gaza City through land, air and naval raids, as its war with Hamas continues beyond a month amid a mounting Palestinian death toll and with no sign of the Israeli and foreign hostages taken by Hamas being released.
"The IDF have encircled Gaza City, the beating heart of the Hamas terrorist organisation," the IDF spokesman Peter Lerner told international media during an online briefing on Monday.
"The strikes have been widespread and deep," he said, referring to Hamas-built or operated tunnel and drone systems, without providing details.
The IDF claims to have killed 10 senior commanders of the Palestinian militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 in the latest military operations in the besieged enclave.
"We have effectively divided Gaza into two parts -- the north and south," Lerner said of the ongoing Israeli raids that seek to "distinguish between civilians and Hamas".
He added the war will be long and that no time limit has been given to the Israeli military by the government.
More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in the month-long war, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, as cited by media in the Middle East.
Protests have also been held in many cities in the Western world against Israeli bombings.
Lerner said Israel's air defence system has been able to intercept most of the rockets fired by Hamas towards residential areas in Israel in the war. He said 8,000 such rockets were fired.
"Thousands of Israelis would have been dead from the strikes."
Since the war started with Hamas' surprise attacks on Israel on October 7 that killed 1,400 people, Israel has maintained that its northern border with Lebanon has seen controlled action by Hezbollah, the other militant group, which Israel calls an "Iran proxy".
But Israeli troops have lately been fighting more Hezbollah fire, he said.
Rockets from Lebanon were launched towards the Israeli port city of Haifa.
Israeli civilians had been evacuated within a 5-km radius of Israel's northern border in the earlier days of the war.
"Hezbollah needs restrain. They need to look at how the IDF is dismantling Hamas in Gaza," Lerner said.
As the war rages on, the fate of some 240 Israeli and foreign hostages taken by Hamas from Israel to Gaza remains unclear.
The IDF spokesman called it a national priority to get the hostages, including children and the elderly, safely back.
He said Israel has asked the International Red Cross to visit the hostages to ensure their well-being.
But Rachel Goldberg, the mother of a young Israeli-American man abducted by Hamas from a music festival in the desert in Israel on October 7, told the same media briefing that the international humanitarian community was failing the victims and their families.
Describing harrowing details of her 23-year-old son's abduction -- his left forearm had been blown off just prior to his kidnapping and his close friend was killed in front of him -- Goldberg said the hostage crisis is now getting buried in the news as well.
Even after 30 days, the hostage crisis has not seen the urgent intervention of a third party that would be considered neutral by both Israel and Hamas.