Israel Expands Ground Operations in Gaza, Says War in South Will Be as Big as North

Gaza officials said at least 700 Palestinians have been killed since Israel's onslaught resumed on Friday

The Israeli military said Sunday that its ground operations have expanded to every part of the Gaza Strip and vowed its assault on the south will be just as big as it was in the north.

“It will be no less powerful than [the operations in northern Gaza], it will have no less results,” said Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, according to The Times of Israel.

“We have the capabilities to do it in the most thorough way, and just as we did it with strength and thoroughly in the north of the Gaza Strip, we are also doing it now in the south of the Gaza Strip, and we also continue to deepen the achievements in the north of the Gaza Strip,” Halevi added.

Halevi’s comments came a few days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel and told Israeli officials to account for the civilians in south Gaza before expanding operations there. But Israel has continued to ignore US warnings about civilians, which ring hollow as the US is shipping 2,000-pound bombs to Israel while setting no red line for their use.

Military situation in Gaza on December 3, 2023 (

Israeli bombs have been pounding the Gaza Strip since the truce with Hamas ended on Friday. A UNICEF spokesman said Sunday that south Gaza was facing the “heaviest bombardment” since October 7 and that there were “massive child casualties.”

Gaza’s media office said over 700 Palestinians were killed in Gaza from Friday to Sunday. Gaza’s Health Ministry issued a casualty update on Sunday, saying more than 15,500 Palestinians have been killed and 40,000 have been wounded. The ministry said 70% of the dead were women and children. Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said the majority of the victims of Israel’s airstrikes since Friday were still under the rubble.

South Gaza is packed with displaced Palestinians as hundreds of thousands fled the north, and Israel is expanding its bombing across the Strip. According to the UN, 1.8 million out of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians have been displaced, including 958,000 who are sheltering at 99 UN facilities in the south.

While supporting the mass slaughter with unconditional military aid, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared to criticize the Israeli tactics in comments on Saturday. The Pentagon chief warned Israel could suffer a “strategic defeat” if it doesn’t do more to protect civilians. “In this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat,” he said.

Austin cited the US war against ISIS, claiming the US-led coalition in Iraq did a lot to protect civilians. The US campaign against ISIS incurred major civilian casualties but not as high of a rate as Israel’s onslaught in Gaza.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.