After more than a month of war between Israel and Hamas, journalists have had little, if any, access to the Gaza Strip. As the Israeli ground offensive deepens, army forces take journalists on tours of the besieged Strip. Our correspondent, Claire Duhamel, spent three hours with them in northern Gaza. Here is her report.
Israeli flags flutter over the ruins of Gaza. In the northern villages of the Strip, members of the Israeli Defense Forces raid every house in search of Hamas fighters. They claim to have destroyed nearby Hamas tunnels and now control the area.
A soldier standing in the middle of a building asks FRANCE 24 not to photograph him for fear that his wife will know his whereabouts. “You’d be very worried if you knew I was here,” he says, “so don’t take a picture of me.”
Lieutenant Colonel Gilad Pasternak, commander of five battalions in the region, says his lieutenant’s concerns are justified. “We are exposed to all kinds of risks when we are here,” he says. “Like mortar and drone fire.”
Part of the operation is patrolling what Israeli forces call “humanitarian corridors” that give civilians a chance to head south, where fighting and air strikes are less dangerous.
“Yes, you can call it forced displacement, but at the same time, we did not invade them on October 7. They invaded us,” says Asher, an IDF lieutenant. “We are doing our best to help them while ensuring our goals. Our goal is to return our citizens to their homes safely.”
The longer the ground offensive continues, the more the Israeli government will attract international criticism due to increasing civilian deaths. “There is always talk of a proportional response,” Asher says. “There is no proportional response in war.”
Click the video player above to watch the full report by Claire Duhamel and Iris Mackler.
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