The heavy Israeli attacks that began last night in the Gaza Strip continued overnight. In the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the Israeli army already drove tanks into the north of the Gaza Strip, where it shelled Hamas targets, and the fighting intensified last night. But a ground offensive, which has been announced for weeks, is still out of the question.
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The Israeli military has now reported that about 100 fighter jets have hit 150 underground Hamas targets in Gaza in the heaviest aerial bombardment of the Gaza war to date. According to an Israeli army spokesman, the airstrikes hit, among other things, battle tunnels, underground combat areas and underground terrorist infrastructure.
Palestinian residents of Gaza reported clashes with Israeli armored vehicles and infantry at three locations in the Gaza Strip. With internet and mobile services almost completely cut off in Gaza since last night, there was little information about the situation in the coastal strip of 2.3 million people. However, CCTV footage from just outside Gaza in Israel and Egypt shows endless airstrikes and artillery turning the night sky orange.
Peter Lerner, the spokesman for the Israeli army, told the American channel ABC News that the “extensive operations” of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip are not the start of a ground war. Mark Regev, advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also did not talk about a ground war in an interview with MSNBC, but talked about ‘payback’ – ‘retaliation’.
Al Jazeera correspondent Safwat Kahlout said around eight o’clock last night that the intensity of the Israeli air strikes of the hours before, coupled with the collapse of communications in the Gaza Strip, was an indication that something ‘bigger’ is about to happen in Gaza. While airstrikes continued to hit areas in Jabaliya and Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, they also targeted the eastern side of Gaza City, Kahlout said.
Hamas asked other countries to do everything in their power to ensure that the Israeli bombing of Gaza stops. “We call on the Arab and Muslim countries and on the international community to take responsibility and immediately stop the crimes and series of killings against our people,” Hamas said in a statement.
Internet and telephone connection
During last night, the internet and telephone connection in the Gaza Strip was disconnected. The internet and telephone network appears to be down in almost the entire area. Aid organization Red Crescent has already reported contact with the teams in the Gaza Strip to have lost. Doctors Without Borders, ActionAid and the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also lost contact with people on the ground.
On social media platform BBC journalist Rushdi Abualouf, who works in Gaza, this morning described the “total chaos” during a night of attacks and their aftermath. “There was a massive bombardment in the north of the Gaza Strip on a scale we have never seen before,” Abualouf wrote.
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It is difficult to determine exactly what is currently happening in the Gaza Strip, due to the lost connections. Al Jazeera, which has several reporters in the enclave, says it is still unable to make contact with the area. The channel is ‘working on ways to still deliver the latest news.’ A journalist who worked for the BBC in Gaza speaks of total chaos last night.
Hamas says it has carried out retaliatory attacks as Israel carries out heavy bombardments on the Gaza Strip. “Missile salvos towards the occupied territories in response to the killing of civilians,” the organization’s armed branch wrote on Telegram, referring to Israel.
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The post first appeared on www.bnr.nl