INSIDE THE GAZA STRIP — An Israeli tank rolls across a sandy moonscape, surrounded by rubble. Damaged buildings are visible in every direction. Toppled trees lie along the Mediterranean shoreline.
The Israeli military escorted international journalists into the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, giving them a glimpse of the aftermath of 12 days of heavy fighting in the area.
israel has been at war against Gaza's Hamas rulers since the Islamic militant group carried out a bloody cross-border attack on Oct. 7, killing over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240 others. israel responded with weeks of intense airstrikes before launching a ground operation on Oct. 27.
“It's been a long two weeks of fighting,” said Lt. Col. Ido, whose last name was withheld under military guidelines. “We've lost some soldiers.”
The initial focus of the operation was northern Gaza, near the Israeli border, before troops moved in on Gaza City, which Israel says is the center of Hamas' military operations.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says 10,500 people have been killed in the Hamas-run territory. Israel says several thousand Hamas militants are among the dead. It also says Hamas uses civilians in residential areas as human shields, and so is responsible for the high death toll. Hamas has denied this.
The drive into Gaza on Wednesday was in a windowless armored vehicle. A screen inside showed images…