Israeli Offensive Gains Momentum in Gaza as Forces Brave Intense Night Battles

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Recent Developments in Gaza Conflict: Israel’s Offensive Advances with Expanded Ground Operation

Israel has reported that its Gaza offensive is “advancing” after a night of fighting in an expanded ground operation backed by intense aerial bombardment. The Israeli army’s latest incursion into Gaza seems to be its largest yet, with military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari confirming that they are “advancing in the phases of the war.” Previous raids saw Israeli troops withdrawing within hours, but this time they appear to still be present in the northern edges of the Gaza Strip even a day after entering. Hamas has claimed engagement with the Israeli military near Beit Hanoun, north of Gaza City.

Aerial Bombardment and Communication Breakdown

As part of the incursion, Israel conducted its largest aerial bombardment since the start of the hostilities three weeks ago. The bombardment was accompanied by a complete breakdown of communication within the Gaza Strip, with cell phone, internet, and landline connections lost late on Friday night.

IDF Forces Expand Ground Operations

The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) stated that its forces entered the northern Gaza Strip and expanded their ground operations. Infantry, armored, engineering, and artillery forces, accompanied by heavy fire, are actively participating in this operation. A video released by the IDF showed dozens of tanks operating near the perimeter fence that runs along the northern and eastern edges of the Gaza Strip, as well as alongside the Mediterranean Sea. The depth of their advancement into Gaza and the level of resistance encountered have not been disclosed. However, footage shows tanks near the village of Beit Lahia, near the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp.

Uncertainty Surrounding Further Military Operations

The latest offensive comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that his government was preparing for a “ground invasion” of Gaza. However, it remains unclear if this escalation is indicative of a wider war. The IDF revealed that it had targeted 150 Hamas locations overnight, including tunnels, combat spaces, and underground infrastructure. It also claimed to have killed Asem Abu Rakaba, the alleged head of Hamas’s aerial array responsible for the October 7 attack on Israel using paragliders.

Challenges Faced by Humanitarian Aid Organizations

The communication blackout in Gaza has made it difficult to update death tolls and hindered the rescue of the wounded by ambulances. The World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières have lost contact with their teams on the ground. As per Palestinian officials, over 7,300 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. In comparison, the raid on October 7 by Hamas militants resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people in Israel, with 222 being held hostage. The images shared on social media show large plumes of fire and ongoing exchanges of fire along the northern Gaza Strip. Concerns have been raised by Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, who stated that public services and civil order in Gaza were “collapsing.” Israel’s blockade on humanitarian aid has prevented sufficient supplies from entering Gaza.

Communication Infrastructure Impacting Gazans

Ishaq Sidr, Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, has reported that Israeli warplanes have targeted telecoms infrastructure, including the main points of contact with the outside world. This severe impact on communication has affected ambulance services in the enclave and has prevented Gazans from transmitting and documenting Israeli attacks in real-time. Human rights agencies, including Amnesty International, have expressed concerns over the communications blackout, which impedes obtaining critical information and evidence of human rights violations and war crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Erika Guevara-Rosas, a senior researcher at Amnesty International, emphasized the importance of hearing directly from those experiencing the violations, which is made increasingly difficult due to the blackout.

[Additional reporting by Mai Khaled in Rafah]


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