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TEL AVIV, Israel. — Israel says its soldiers are surrounding the last Hamas strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip as its war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas continues.

Israel’s defense minister says Hamas battalions in the region are “on the verge of dismantling.”

Meantime, the Israel Defense Forces are stepping up attacks in the central part of the Gaza Strip, where more than 19,000 people have been killed since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th.

U.S. officials are pushing for more humanitarian pauses in the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Qatari officials said today the country is attempting to move forward with hostage release negotiations after talks collapsed. This comes as Israel released the names of 20 hostages held by Hamas that are believed to be dead.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said talks are ongoing to get more hostages out of Gaza and more humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians.

The Biden administration, however, is still firmly against a general ceasefire in the conflict. Kirby said a ceasefire would put Hamas in complete control of the Gaza Strip.

Kirby also says they’re concerned over reports Israel may have misused U.S.-made white phosphorous munitions. The administration will be asking Israeli officials questions about the allegations.

Kirby noted that the weapons have a legitimate military purpose. This comes following a report from The Washington Post claiming Israel fired the white phosphorous during an attack in southern Lebanon in October, which some experts say could constitute a war crime.