Dozens of Palestinian men captured by the Israeli military were stripped to their underwear and paraded around a central square in Gaza where Hamas fighters used to hold rallies.
Footage published by Israeli media showed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rounding up several dozen Palestinians who allegedly surrendered in the Jabaliya refugee camp and other areas in the north.
The undressed young men were seen in the back of a military truck, and later sitting on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs. Shoes were seen strewn nearby on what Israeli media identified as Palestine Square in Gaza City.
The IDF has not commented on the images but at least some of them appear to have been taken from an Israeli army vehicle.
The Walla news website said the men surrendered to Israel’s 261st Reserve Brigade, adding that the “suspects were stripped to rule out the possibility that they were carrying weapons”.
Commenting on the images, Daniel Hagari, an IDF spokesman, said Jabaliya and Shejaya, a Gaza city neighbourhood, were “centres of gravity” for terrorists.
“They are hiding underground and come out and we fight them,” said Rear-Adml Hagari.
“Whoever is left in those areas, they come out from tunnel shafts, and some from buildings, and we investigate who is linked to Hamas, and who isn’t. We arrest them all and interrogate them.”
Journalists from The New Arab said they recognised one of their colleagues in the footage of detainees.
Israel on Thursday suggested it would open one of its southern border crossings into Gaza to allow for more supplies of aid.
Colonel Elad Goren, head of COGAT, the Israeli agency for civilian co-ordination with the Palestinians, said Kreem Shalom would be opened “for inspection” in the “next few days”.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s aid chief, said negotiations were under way for the crossing to open for humanitarian supplies, saying “it would be the first miracle we’ve seen for some weeks”.
Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah and its suburbs came under intense Israeli air strikes on Thursday, with most of the enclave’s residents forced to flee from their homes and squeezed into a small area in the south.
At least 20 people were reported dead from an air strike on the al-Shaboura neighbourhood in Rafa, while airstrikes on the Beta refugee camp close to the border with Egypt also reportedly left casualties.
The IDF’s ground invasion has pushed 80 per cent of Gazans, about 1.9 million people, away from their homes in the north. Many stayed in the centre of the Gaza Strip near Khan Younis for weeks before Israel launched hostilities there too, sending civilians further south.
Joe Biden spoke by telephone with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, to discuss the ongoing offensive. Western leaders have been pushing for greater deliveries of aid into the Gaza Strip. Vast portions of the region have been flattened as Israeli troops advance.
Rafah was overflowing with people by Thursday.
The 24 sq mile district had a pre-war population of a quarter of a million people. The number of displaced people there reached one million last week, according to the UN.
Maysaa Said, 28, who fled Gaza City for Rafah in mid-October, said on Thursday that she no longer felt safe, even in the tiny strip of land next to the Egyptian border.
She said: “This area is supposed to be safe according to the Israeli forces. Last night we could hear successive powerful airstrikes in Tel al-Sultan like what they call a fire belt. Later we heard two bombings where we were, the third missile didn’t explode.
“There is no safe place in the Gaza Strip, but we are trying to stay safe as much as we can. Rafah isn’t safe. We constantly hear bombings somewhere nearby.”
Evacuation is impossible
Gaza’s health ministry said on Thursday that at least 17,177 people had been killed in the conflict – including 350 in the past 24 hours alone – with 46,000 injured.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said its ambulances services in the north had ground to a halt as hospitals in the area shut down and fuel supplies ran out on Thursday. This made the evacuation of the injured impossible, it added.
In the United States, Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, described the massive death toll in Gaza as “gut-wrenching”. On Wednesday he appeared to laud Israel for heeding US calls to avoid civilian casualties.
“I said to them very clearly when I was there just a week ago, we cannot have a repeat of what happened in the north in the south in terms of harm being done to civilians,” Mr Blinken told CNN.
“What we’re seeing is areas clearly designated by Israel that are safe areas, where there’s not going to be firing or the military. We’ve seen efforts to make sure that people know that they need to move – and not in the entire city, but just discrete neighbourhoods. So that’s positive.”
A Telegraph reporter in Gaza contributed to this report but their name has been withheld for security reasons