In an ambush near the Gazan city of Khan Younis, according to Hamas, its fighters destroyed two Israeli military bulldozers and a tank, forcing Israeli troops to flee without their vehicles. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that its troops were in Gaza at the time of the incident and claimed that a tank from the IDF struck militants who had fired on its soldiers.
The battle appeared to be one of the first ground battles between the two sides inside the Gaza Strip since hostilities started following the deadly Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that left more than 1,400 people dead. The clashes occurred as the IDF gathered large numbers of troops at the border and bombarded the densely populated enclave with nearly constant airstrikes over the past two weeks in preparation for a potential ground operation in Gaza.
Several hospitals in Gaza reported being overrun with casualties on Sunday, with one hospital calling it a "bloody day" and another cutting back on dialysis treatments due to fuel and electricity shortages. According to the Gazan health ministry, more than 4,600 people have died in Gaza since Israel's response to the Hamas attack got under way more than two weeks ago.
In order to help identify their kids in the event that they or the kids are killed, some parents in Gaza are now writing their kids' names on their legs. A CNN reporter from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital captured images of a toddler, three other kids, and their names written in Arabic on their calves. In a crowded room, all four were seen lying on stretchers that had been placed on the floor. It wasn't known if their parents perished as well.
Videos that CNN was able to obtain also showed the hospital receiving more than a dozen bodies that were covered in shrouds as bereaved relatives tried to identify them.
According to two sources briefed on the discussions, the US government has urged Israel to postpone its ground operations in Gaza so that more Hamas hostages can be freed and aid can enter Gaza. Indicating the potential release of more of the 200 people thought to have been abducted by the militant group since its deadly attacks two weeks ago, two Americans held by Hamas were freed on Friday.
Although military officials have repeatedly warned troops that an invasion is about to happen, Israel has not provided a timeline for the potential ground offensive against Gaza.
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari stated on Saturday, "We will intensify the strikes, starting from today, and we will increase our strikes, minimize the risk to our troops in the next stages of the war." According to Hagari, Israeli forces will "continue to destroy terror targets ahead of the next stage of the war, and are focusing on our readiness to the next stage."
An Israeli Defense spokesman said on Sunday that three soldiers were hurt and one IDF soldier was killed while preparing for the ground operation in Gaza.
The US and its allies have cautioned Israel against a protracted occupation and stressed the importance of minimizing civilian casualties while urging it to be strategic and clear about its objectives during any ground operation in Gaza.
Speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, the leaders of Spain and the Netherlands reiterated their support for Israel while pleading for restraint.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, "I reiterated my condemnation of Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel and its right to defend itself against them, within the bounds of international and humanitarian law."
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte wrote on X, "Israel must do everything possible to prevent civilians from becoming victims of the fight against Hamas." Additionally, regional escalation must be prevented at all costs. Additionally, Israel must exercise restraint when using force.
Independent experts from the UN have expressed concern that Israeli actions in Gaza may constitute "crimes against humanity." "The total siege of Gaza is a violation of international humanitarian and criminal law, as are the mandated evacuations that are impossible to carry out and the forced population transfers. In a statement released on Thursday, the experts added that it is also abominably cruel.