(Reuters) - Israeli forces pressed ahead with their air and ground bombardment of southern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, even as the United States and the United Nations repeatedly urged them to protect civilians.
Asked on Monday about the mounting death toll since a truce collapsed between Israel and Hamas on Friday, Israel’s closest ally the United States said it was too soon to say whether Israel was doing enough to protect civilians and that it expected Israel not to strike zones it has identified as safe.
Residents and journalists on the ground said the intense Israeli air strikes in the south of the densely populated coastal enclave included areas where Israel had told people to seek shelter.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to Israel to avoid further action that would make the already dire humanitarian situation in Hamas-run Gaza worse, and to spare civilians from more suffering.
"The Secretary-General is extremely alarmed by the resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas... For people ordered to evacuate, there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive on," U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
Israel largely captured the northern half of Gaza in November, and since a week-long truce collapsed on Friday they have swiftly pushed deep into the southern half.
Hamas ally Islamic Jihad's armed wing said its fighters engaged in fierce clashes with Israeli soldiers north and east of Khan Younis, Gaza's main southern city.
Israeli tanks have driven into Gaza across the border and cut off the main north-south route, residents said. The Israeli military said the central road out of Khan Younis to the north "constitutes a battlefield" and was now shut.