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As Israel ramps up its ground war, Hamas says death toll in Gaza Strip has soared over 8,000

East Jerusalem — Israeli troops were inside the Gaza Strip Monday, waging what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the “next stage” of his country’s war against Hamas militants in response to the brutal terror attack they launched on October 7. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released video showing soldiers entering Gaza from the north after another weekend of intense airstrikes.

Health officials in the Hamas-controlled enclave said Monday that more than three weeks of relentless Israeli artillery and missile strikes had left over 8,300 people dead, including more than 3,400 children. Israel insists it’s only targeting Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, and that the blame for all civilian casualties rests entirely with Hamas for sparking the war and hiding amongst Gaza’s civilian population.

Why did Hamas attack Israel, and why now?

Israel says the initial Hamas attack and ongoing rocket fire from Gaza have claimed more than 1,400 lives since October 7.

Determined to show he’s in full control of the war, Netanyahu visited some of his troops over the weekend, telling them they were “surrounded by a sea of love.”

Grainy IDF video showed Israeli soldiers carrying out a clean, clinical operation, with tanks rolling into Gaza as ground operations increased. The military claimed to have killed dozens of Hamas militants who’d barricaded themselves inside buildings in the densely-packed strip of land — and in a vast network of tunnels dug underneath them, from which they attempted to attack the troops.

But many in Israel take a very different view of their country’s war, including Reoma Kedem, who lost her daughter and grandchildren in the gruesome terror attack when Hamas gunmen stormed into their community near the Gaza border.

Over the weekend, Kedem joined a small protest in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, where she came to voice her rage at her own government and the man who leads it, Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“How long will we continue with this bloodshed?” She asked. “If this man does not go, we won’t have a solution.”

Despite the IDF’s promise that the war with Hamas will usher in a “new security reality” for Israelis, many in the country believe Netanyahu and his far-right leadership coalition are an impediment to finding the peace that has eluded the country since its creation in 1948, not a government intent on working toward it.

Tension has also been mounting fast in the larger Palestinian territory of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces over the last 24 hours, and there have been regular protests in solidarity with those trapped in Gaza.

The Health Ministry run by the Palestinian Authority, the Western-backed administration in the West Bank, said Monday that almost 330 Palestinians had died in clashes with Israeli forces since October 7.

Palestinian teenager Yazan Najjar was among those voicing his outrage over the weekend. He told CBS News he believed the children of Gaza had been forgotten.

“It makes me sick that the world is turning its back on us and it’s not doing anything to protect us,” he said.

As Israel pounds Gaza, there is nowhere safe to hide for the roughly 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in the narrow strip of land on the Mediterranean coast, and they’re running out of everything, including the most basic necessities of food, water and medicine. Aid agencies say the truck convoys that have been allowed to cross into Gaza over its southern border with Egypt over the last week are entirely insufficient, and they have continued to call for a wider opening of the border.

The desperation has grown so severe that people broke into a United Nations warehouse over the weekend to grab anything they could get their hands on.

CBS News producer Marwan Al-Ghoul is among those trapped in Gaza, and he drove through what’s left of the northern part of Gaza City over the weekend. He saw children looking around in the rubble of a house that had just been destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, searching for victims. A woman’s body was visible under the crushed concrete and twisted steel.

Ambulances rushed from one hellscape to another all weekend in Gaza, trying to rescue the critically injured.

Many civilians have taken shelter in hospitals, which have been ordered repeatedly by the Israeli military to evacuate.

The IDF accuses Hamas of using Gaza’s hospitals as bases, placing weapons, fighters and even command centers in tunnels under the buildings and in the buildings themselves — and using the medics and civilians all around them as human shields.

The Red Crescent says it can’t evacuate the hospitals as if they try to move the hundreds of patients in intensive care, they’ll die.

As Israel ramps up its war on Hamas, the pleas from within Gaza — and for Gaza from around the world — are growing louder, with many calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

While U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued a personal call for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire,” neither the U.N. Security Council nor the full General Assembly, nor the U.S. government, have gone that far.

The U.S. and the U.N. have both urged Israel to prioritize the protection of civilians.

CBS News’ Pamela Falk at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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