After more than a month of war between Israel and Hamas, journalists have had little or no access to the Gaza Strip. As the Israeli ground offensive deepens, army troops take journalists on a tour 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 the northern villages of the enclave, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) personnel raid every house in search of Hamas militants. They claim they have destroyed nearby Hamas tunnels and now control the area.
Standing inside a building, a soldier asks FRANCE 24 not to film him for fear that his wife will discover where he is. “I would be very worried if I knew I was here. So don’t take my photo,” she says.
Lt. Col. Gilad Pasternak, commander of five battalions in the area, says his lieutenant’s concerns are justified. “We are exposed to all kinds of dangers when we are here,” he says. “Like mortar fire and drones.”
Part of the operation involves patrolling what Israeli forces call “humanitarian corridors,” which give civilians the opportunity to head south, where fighting and airstrikes 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 are doing the best we can to help them while ensuring our goals. “Our goal is to bring our people home safely.”
The longer the ground offensive continues, the more international criticism the Israeli government generates over increasing civilian deaths. “You always talk about a proportionate response… There is no proportionate response in war,” Asher says.
Click the video player above to watch the full report from Claire Duhamel and Irris Makler.