Tel Aviv | Israel Defence Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said on Thursday that troops are operating inside Gaza City and are surrounding it from several directions, The Times of Isreal reported.
"We have advanced another significant stage in the war. The forces are in the heart of northern Gaza, operating in Gaza City, surrounding it, and deepening [the ground offensive] and achievements," Halevi said in a statement from an Air Force base.
"The forces are fighting in a dense and complex urban area that requires professional combat and courage," he said.
"We are fighting in the name of the sanctity of life against an enemy whose flag represents death and destruction. We fight as a powerful military with a sharp moral compass. We are fighting for the values of justice and morality upon which the country was established against a terrorist organisation that committed vile and horrific war crimes," Halevi added.
Halevi said this war has "a painful and difficult price," with 18 soldiers being killed in the ground operation so far. "We lost the best of our sons in the war, we embrace their families... we will continue to win."
In response to a question about fuel supplies to Gaza, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said fuel will be allowed for use in hospitals.
"We have not brought fuel into this point," he says. "We check the situation in the Strip every day. For over a week, they have told us that the fuel in the hospitals will run out, and it hasn't. Fuel will be transferred, with oversight, to the hospitals, and we will do everything to ensure that it won't serve Hamas's military aims."
Meanwhile, at least 400 foreign nationals are expected to leave Gaza and enter Egypt through the Rafah crossing, a Palestinian official at the crossing, Wael Abu Umar, told CNN on Thursday.
This follows the overnight release of a list containing 595 names of people who appear to have received clearance for departure from Gaza.
Over 8,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7. More than 1,400 people were killed in the Hamas attack on Israel.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently made it clear that Israel would not agree to a ceasefire, drawing parallels to the United States' position after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
Netanyahu called it a turning point for nations and said that it is time for everyone to decide if they are willing to fight for a future of hope and promise or surrender to tyranny and terror. He said that Israel has been at war since October 7.