June 9, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Gaza: 7,323 Palestinians killed since reprisal attacks began, Israel intensifies ground battles

UNSPECIFIED, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 29: Israeli tanks and troops near the border with Gaza on October 28, 2023 in Sderot, Israel. In the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that left 1,400 dead and 200 kidnapped, Israel launched a sustained bombardment of the Gaza Strip and threatened a ground invasion to vanquish the militant group that governs the Palestinian territory. But the fate of the hostages, Israelis and foreign nationals who are being held by Hamas in Gaza, as well as international pressure over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, have complicated Israel's military response to the attacks. A timeline for a proposed ground invasion remains unclear. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Israeli tanks and troops near the border with Gaza in Sderot, Israel on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Getty Images.

ISRAEL’S military says it is inside Gaza, this Saturday afternoon, after saying Friday it would expand its ground operations following the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks that killed 1,400.
A spokesman tells CNN, “the forces are in the field and continue the fighting.”
Health workers, patients, and civilians in Gaza spent Friday night “in darkness and fear” due to a communications and electrical blackout across the Gaza strip, says the World Health Organization (WHO) this Saturday in another report.
A ground offensive has been widely expected following the attacks, but it did not appear as though any major operation aimed at seizing and holding significant amounts of the territory was yet underway.
Gazans are taking stock after what have been described as the heaviest airstrikes of the conflict so far. Video captured by CNN shows multiple bodies, including children, covered in shrouds at a hospital. Communications have been heavily disrupted.
Israel’s military said its warplanes hit 150 underground targets in northern Gaza, striking what it called terror tunnels and underground combat spaces and killing several Hamas operatives.
“During a night of intense bombardment and ground incursions in Gaza, with reports of hostilities still continuing, health workers, patients and civilians have been subject to a total communication and electrical blackout,” WHO writes in a post on X.
According to WHO, hospitals across Gaza are operating at maximum capacity, unable to take in new patients whilst also “sheltering thousands of civilians.”
“There are more [people] wounded every hour, but ambulances cannot reach them in the communications blackout. Morgues are full. More than half of the dead are women and children.
Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) sources estimate that as many as 7,323 Palestinians might have been killed since Israel launched reprisal attacks “to punish” Hamas for the unprovoked October 7 massacre.
WHO has reiterated its call for “immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” writing that safe passage must also be ensured for “desperately needed medical supplies, fuel, water and food into and across Gaza.
“WHO appeals to the humanity in all those who have the power to do so to end the fighting now, in line with the UN resolution adopted yesterday, calling for a humanitarian truce, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians held captive.”
Reports say many are struggling to get in touch with people in Gaza after communications links were badly disrupted by an aerial assault overnight.
The last standing major internet operator in the region, Paltel, experienced damage to its international routes, according to NetBlocks, an internet outage monitoring firm based in London.
Families of Israeli hostages are fearful as the military expands ground operations. A group lobbying for them says the families are racked with anxiety that Israel’s expanded ground operations will put the hostages in more danger.
“Last night was the most terrible of all nights. It was a long and sleepless night, against the backdrop of the major IDF operation in the Strip, and absolute uncertainty regarding the fate of the hostages held there, who were also subject to the heavy bombings,” the Hostages and Missing Families Forum says in a statement this Saturday afternoon.
“Anxiety, frustration, and especially enormous anger that none of the war cabinet bothered to meet with the families of the hostages to explain one thing – whether the ground operation endangers the well-being of the 229 hostages in Gaza,” they say.
Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin, parents of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a 23-year-old American who was wounded and kidnapped by Hamas at an Israeli music festival, say in a separate statement that the expansion of Israel’s ground operation in Gaza is “of extreme concern to us.”
“We pray for the safety and security of the Israeli soldiers on the frontlines as they begin their mission and the safety of all hostages and innocent lives.
“We implore all world leaders, especially of the 33 countries represented among the hostages, to take urgent and immediate action to bring all the hostages safely home. There is not a moment to waste,” they say.
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters on Friday that they had notified the families of the hostages about the expanded operations.
Hamas has released a total of four hostages since its October 7 attacks, but the IDF estimates that 224 remain trapped inside Gaza.
Hostages include Israeli civilians and soldiers as well as foreign nationals and children as young as 9 months.
Among them are scores of hostages holding foreign passports from 25 different countries, including Mexico, Brazil, the United States, Germany and Thailand, according to the Israeli government.
Near the Gaza border, staging grounds once teeming with hundreds of Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers and bulldozers have mostly emptied out. Logistics support vehicles and armored personnel carriers flowed toward Gaza.
Meanwhile, other tanks traveled north, returning to those same staging grounds north of the border after a night of heavy fighting in Gaza.
These are the scenes CNN observed Saturday morning, more than 12 hours after Israel launched what it described as an “expanded ground operation” in northern Gaza.
IDF spokesman Hagari says (Saturday morning) that Israeli forces remain “in the field and continue the fighting.”