Israel reported airstrikes Tuesday in northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip, a day after the country’s defense ministers said the intensive phase of Israel’s war with Hamas would soon end.
The Israel Defense Forces said airstrikes targeted militants in the Northern Shati area as well as Khan Younis.
Israeli troops killed dozens of militants and uncovered about 100 rocket installations, the military said.
An overnight airstrike also struck a Hezbollah anti-tank launcher in southern Lebanon, the latest in the cross-border fighting that has raised fears of an expanding conflict in the region.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ruled out a cease-fire as he spoke to reporters Monday, saying Israel could not fully stop its military operations in Gaza because Hamas would not agree to release any more hostages without military pressure.
Gallant said the “intense maneuvering stage” that the Israeli military has been carrying out in southern Gaza “will end soon.” He said the military had recently ended its intensive ground operation in northern Gaza.
“In both places, we will reach the moment for the next stage,” he said.
Gallant’s comments came as Hamas announced the death of two of the Israeli hostages it abducted during its October attack.
In a video released by Hamas on Monday, the group showed the dead bodies of two people it said were Israeli hostages. In a statement accompanying the video, Hamas said the hostages were killed by the Israeli military.
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari denied that Israeli forces caused the deaths.
“That is a Hamas lie,” he said.
The Gaza Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between fighters and civilians in its casualty totals, said Monday that the number of dead from Israel’s military campaign had risen to at least 24,100, with more than 60,000 others injured.
Israel began its military campaign to wipe out Hamas after Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 people hostage in a terror attack.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres renewed his appeal Monday for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, saying it is urgently needed to get aid to Palestinians, facilitate the release of hostages held by Hamas, and halt the spread of the war throughout the Mideast.
“I am profoundly worried by what is unfolding,” Guterres told reporters at the United Nations.
During a temporary cease-fire in late November, militants in Gaza released more than 100 hostages, while Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Also Monday, the World Food Program, World Health Organization and UNICEF warned that the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza is “far short of what is needed to prevent a deadly combination of hunger, malnutrition and disease.”
The agencies called for new routes for aid to enter Gaza, along with more trucks allowed in each day, as well as fewer restrictions on aid worker movements and better safety protections.
“People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food,” WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement. “Every hour lost puts countless lives at risk. We can keep famine at bay, but only if we can deliver sufficient supplies and have safe access to everyone in need, wherever they are.