Heavy Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people, has led to an almost complete shutdown of internet and mobile phone services since Friday evening. The situation on the ground in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave remains uncertain, with very little information available.
Footage from media positions outside Gaza in Israel and Egypt provided a grim visual narrative of the relentless air strikes and artillery fire that painted the night sky in shades of orange.
According to an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman, this extensive air campaign, involving 100 Israeli jets, was primarily targeting fighting tunnels, underground fighting sites and Hamas’ underground infrastructure.
Reports from inside Gaza describe a chaotic scenario, with medics facing major challenges in coordinating the rescue and treatment of the dead and injured due to the breakdown of communications.
The far-reaching consequences of the blackout have also affected international organisations. The World Health Organization (WHO) has lost contact with its staff and health facilities in Gaza, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revealed in a social media post. Expressing the gravity of the situation, Ghebreyesus said, “The power outage also makes it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured. It is not possible to evacuate patients or find safe shelter in these conditions.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reported the loss of its staff during the ongoing crisis. UNRWA said on social media: “It has been confirmed that 53 of our colleagues in Gaza have been killed since 7 October. These people dedicated their lives to serving their communities. One colleague died while collecting bread. He leaves behind 6 children. We are beyond devastated as this unspeakable suffering continues.”
The Israeli military said on Saturday its military operations had entered northern Gaza overnight, expanding its efforts with infantry and armoured corps in the besieged Palestinian territory and intensifying its campaign against the Hamas militant group.
Hamas’ military wing issued a statement on Friday night claiming to be engaged in ground fighting with the IDF. The militant group said it had led the infiltrating Israeli forces into several ambushes, resulting in casualties among the enemy’s ranks.
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari stated that Israeli forces remain in Gaza and are actively engaged in the conflict. Hagari reported that there were no casualties among Israeli forces and detailed that the extensive attack involved infantry, armoured, engineering and artillery forces in coordination with the air force.