After over a month of the Israel-Hamas war, journalists have had little, if any, access to the Gaza Strip. As the Israeli ground offensive deepens, army troops are taking reporters on tours of the besieged enclave. Our correspondent Claire Duhamel spent three hours embedded with them in northern Gaza. Here is her report.
Israeli flags fly over the ruins of Gaza. In northern villages of the enclave, Israeli Defence Force (IDF) personnel storm every house, looking for Hamas militants. They claim they have destroyed Hamas tunnels nearby and now control the area.
Standing in the shell of a building, one soldier asks FRANCE 24 not to film him for fear of his wife finding out where he is. "She'd be so worried if she knew I was here. So don't take a picture of me," he says.
Lieutenant-Colonel Gilad Pasternak, the commander of five battalions in the area, says his lieutenant's concerns are justified. “We're exposed to all kinds of dangers when we're here,” he says. “Like mortar and drone fire.”
Part of the operation is patrolling what Israeli forces call ‘humanitarian corridors’ which give civilians an opportunity to head south where the fighting and air strikes are less dangerous.
“Yes, you can call it forced displacement, but at the same time, we didn't invade them on October 7. They invaded us,” says Asher, an IDF lieutenant. “We're doing the best we can to help them while ensuring our objectives. Our goal is to get our people home safely.”
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