ISRAELI forces have severed northern Gaza from the rest of the besieged territory and pounded it with intense airstrikes overnight. 

The action sets the stage for an expected push into the dense confines of Gaza City and an even bloodier phase of the month-old war.

Already, the Palestinian death toll has passed 10,000, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Monday.

The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians.

Some 1400 Israelis have died, mostly civilians killed in the October 7 incursion by Hamas that started the war.

The figures mark a grim milestone in what has quickly become the deadliest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence since Israel’s establishment 75 years ago, with no end in sight as Israel vows to remove Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities.

Casualties are only likely to rise as the war turns to close urban combat.

According to Israeli media, troops are expected to enter Gaza City soon. 

READ MORE: Top UN official says UK 'violating international law' with poverty levels

They will meet Hamas militants who have had years to prepare and are likely to fight street by street, launching ambushes from a vast network of tunnels.

The Israeli military said late on Sunday that it had cut off northern Gaza from the south, calling it a “significant stage” in the war.

On Monday, it said that aircraft struck 450 targets overnight and ground troops took over a Hamas compound.

A one-way corridor for residents to flee south remains available, according to the military, for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who remain in Gaza City and other parts of the north.

Some 1.5 million Palestinians, or around 70% of Gaza’s population, have fled their homes since the war began.

Food, medicine, fuel and water are running low, and UN-run schools-turned-shelters are beyond capacity, with many sleeping on the streets outside.

Mobile phone and internet service went down overnight, the third territory-wide outage since the start of the war, but was gradually restored on Monday, according to the Palestinian telecom company Paltel and internet access advocacy group

The National: Palestinians look for survivors of the Israeli bombardment in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza StripPalestinians look for survivors of the Israeli bombardment in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip (Image: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Aid workers say the outages make it even harder for civilians to seek safety or even call ambulances.

Israel has so far rejected US suggestions for a pause in fighting to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries and the release of some of the estimated 240 hostages seized by Hamas in its raid.

Israel has also dismissed calls for a broader cease-fire from increasingly alarmed Arab countries, including Jordan and Egypt, which made peace with it decades ago.

After days of intense diplomacy around the Middle East, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his tour of the region on Monday, saying efforts to secure a humanitarian pause, negotiate the release of hostages and plan for a post-Hamas Gaza were still “a work in progress” without pointing to any concrete achievements.

The war has also stoked wider tensions, with Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group trading fire along the border.

In another sign of growing unrest, a Palestinian man stabbed and wounded two members of Israel’s paramilitary Border Police in east Jerusalem before being shot dead, according to police and an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with Gaza and the West Bank, in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognised by most of the international community and considers the entire city its capital.

READ MORE: Scots react to lost commuter blaming Gaelic map on Glasgow Subway

In northern Gaza, a Jordanian military cargo plane air-dropped medical aid to a field hospital, King Abdullah II said.

It appeared to be the first such airdrop of the war, raising the possibility of another avenue for aid delivery besides Egypt’s Rafah crossing, which has so far been the only entry point.

Over 450 lorries carrying aid have been allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt since October 21, but humanitarian workers say it is insufficient to meet mounting needs in the territory, which is home to some 2.3m Palestinians.

Northern Gaza is facing a severe water shortage, as there is no fuel to pump from municipal wells and Israel shut off the region’s main line.

The UN office for humanitarian affairs said seven water facilities across Gaza were struck over the last two days and sustained “major damage”, raising the risk of sewage flooding.

Israel has restored two water pipelines in central and southern Gaza, the UN said.

Some 800,000 people have heeded Israeli military orders to flee to southern Gaza.

Around 2000 people, many carrying only what they could hold in their arms, walked down Gaza’s main north-south road on Sunday.

The National: Palestinians look through the wreckage of a militant's home targeted by Israeli forcesPalestinians look through the wreckage of a militant's home targeted by Israeli forces (Image: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

“The children saw tanks for the first time. Oh world, have mercy on us,” said one Palestinian man, who declined to give his name.

But Israeli bombardments have continued across the territory, and strikes in central and southern Gaza, the purported safe zone, killed dozens of people on Sunday.

Israel blames civilian casualties on Hamas, accusing the militants of operating in residential neighbourhoods.

On Monday, Palestinians held a mass funeral for 66 people outside a hospital in the central town of Deir al-Balah.

The bodies were wrapped in white sheets on the ground outside the hospital morgue. A man with bandages wrapped around his head placed his hand on a child’s body and wept.

The Health Ministry said that 10,022 people have been killed in Gaza, including over 4100 children and 2600 women.

READ MORE: Michelle Mone finally admits involvement with 'VIP lane' PPE firm

Meanwhile, four civilians were killed by an Israeli airstrike on a vehicle in south Lebanon late Sunday, including three children, a local civil defence official and state-run media reported.

The Israeli military said it was reviewing the strike, after initially saying it had struck Hezbollah targets following anti-tank fire that killed an Israeli civilian.

Hezbollah said it fired Grad rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel in response.

In the overnight strikes in Gaza, the Israeli military said it had killed a senior Hamas militant, identified as Jamal Mussa, who had allegedly carried out a shooting attack against Israeli soldiers in Gaza in 1993.

It said 30 Israeli troops have been killed since the ground offensive began over a week ago.

Palestinian militants have continued firing rockets into Israel, disrupting daily life even as most are intercepted or fall in open areas.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have evacuated from communities near the volatile borders with Gaza and Lebanon.