The Israeli military crossed into central Gaza between Dec. 24 and 26, new satellite images obtained and analyzed by The New York Times showed, giving a fuller picture of the latest front in Israel’s war to eradicate Hamas from the embattled enclave.
By Tuesday, Israeli forces had reached the outskirts of Al Bureij, a densely built-up neighborhood in the center of the Gaza Strip, about one mile from the border with Israel.
In a news briefing on Tuesday, the military confirmed the advance, saying that its forces had targeted terrorist infrastructure in the area of Al Bureij and had found a tunnel shaft.
“We are expanding the fighting to the area called the central camps,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for the military, said.
The military crossed the border in at least two locations to advance toward Al Bureij. The imagery, obtained from the commercial image provider Planet Labs, captured dozens of armored vehicles, as well as freshly cleared areas and earthen fortifications.
Al Bureij was founded decades ago as a refugee camp for Palestinians displaced in the creation of Israel, and has grown into a small but densely packed neighborhood, according to UNRWA, the U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees.
On Sunday, airstrikes in and around the neighborhood left dozens dead, Gazan health ministry officials said. Satellite imagery also revealed newly destroyed residential and other buildings that were hit.
A video published by the Israeli military and verified by The Times shows some of the same armored vehicles shortly after they crossed the border, moving deeper into Gaza.
At the end of last week, Israel told residents of the same area in central Gaza, which was home to almost 90,000 people before the war, to evacuate south. The orders and new military advance impact an area that had not been previously been a focus of Israel’s offensive. The humanitarian situation in the south of the Gaza Strip has been growing more dire as displaced Palestinians are forced to flee there.
Nadav Gavrielov contributed reporting from Tel Aviv.