Israeli ground forces are inside Gaza after entering the enclave overnight, as Palestinians experience what they describe. The most intense round of airstrikes Since Israel launched its retaliation Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack.
Israeli forces “moved into the Gaza Strip and expanded ground operations with infantry, armored and engineer units and heavy artillery fire,” Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said during a Saturday morning press conference. Tel Aviv.
“Forces are on the ground and continuing to fight,” he added, without elaborating.
Hagari’s words confirm that the military operation has undergone a significant escalation after what he previously described as two “targeted raids” on Wednesday night and Thursday night. Both of those raids were withdrawn hours later by ground forces.
However, it does not appear that any major ground offensive aimed at capturing and holding a significant amount of territory is yet underway.
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Near the Gaza border, halls filled with hundreds of Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers and bulldozers were mostly empty.
As a CNN crew visited several halls north of the Strip, signs of Israel’s incursion into northern Gaza overnight were clear.
Near the staging ground, north-south pavement markings on the surrounding roads marked the forward tracks of the tanks toward Gaza. Fields once littered with vehicles were often filled with debris left behind by troops ordered to mobilize.
CNN also observed some tank units turning away from the direction of Gaza and returning to their forward operating positions.
The IDF said on Saturday that its warplanes struck 150 underground targets north of the enclave in what it called terrorism. Mines and underground battlegrounds and killed many Hamas operatives.
Hagari said the Gazans who moved south of Wadi Gaza, along the waterway that divides the region’s center, are in what he called a “protected area” and will receive more food, water and medicine today, though he gave no details. .
With an area of just 140 square miles and one of the most densely populated places on Earth, the enclave is home to more than 2 million people. For weeks, people living in the area have faced Israeli airstrikes and a growing humanitarian situation with shortages of water, food and fuel.
At least 7,650 people have been killed and more than 19,450 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, according to the latest figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, obtained from Hamas-controlled areas.
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Israeli airstrikes destroyed hundreds of buildings in the Gaza Strip overnight, the civil defense service in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory said on Saturday.
Gazans mourned the loss of their loved ones on Saturday following intense Israeli airstrikes, with many gathering at the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza.
Video captured by CNN shows several bodies, including those of children covered in white blankets or thick blankets, lying on the ground in a hospital courtyard.
Dr. Khalil al-Dikran told CNN that 22 bodies were found overnight at the hospital and hundreds were injured. He said people used everything from bikes, cars and donkey carts to bring the dead and injured to the hospital.
Hospitals have lost touch with each other, he said, after communication networks were cut across the strip. “People are desperate to find some news about their loved ones and their families,” he added.
After a pause of several hours, al-Tikran said airstrikes had resumed in central and northern Gaza, with artillery barrages continuing unabated throughout the night.
The IDF launched heavy artillery fire against northern Gaza on Saturday, with several explosions heard every minute.
A CNN team on the ground at an Israeli checkpoint near the Strip’s perimeter witnessed intense and sustained explosions and air power. Smoke was also seen rising from the area. Some of the explosions were so strong that the impact could be physically felt a kilometer (less than a mile) from the border.
IDF reserve soldiers in the position told CNN that Friday night was the most intense night of bombings.
Israeli troops have removed a large perimeter around the Gaza Strip for fear of incoming anti-tank weapons.
02:43 – Source: CNN
The doctor was unable to contact colleagues in the Gaza blackout
Communications in the enclave have been severely disrupted, leaving aid agencies out of touch with their staff on the ground.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post called X on Twitter on Saturday morning that reports of serious bombings were “deeply distressing”. He added: “We are still not in touch with our staff and health facilities. I am concerned about their safety.
He said it was “impossible” to evacuate patients or seek safe shelter under such conditions and “it was impossible for ambulances to reach the injured due to darkness”.
WHO said on social media that health workers, patients and civilians in Gaza spent the night “in darkness and fear” as they were “subject to a total communication and power outage”.
The organization said hospitals across Gaza were operating at maximum capacity, unable to take in new patients and “sheltering thousands of civilians”.
“There are more [people] Every hour is injured,” WHO said. “But ambulances cannot reach them in communication blackouts. Mortuaries are full. More than half of the dead are women and children.
It reiterated its call for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and to ensure safe passage of “necessary medical supplies, fuel, water and food into and across Gaza”.
Several United Nations agencies have also reported losing contact with local staff in Gaza.
Lynn Hastings, United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Palestine, told X that “Gaza has lost contact with the outside world amid reports of intense shelling.”
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a post on X that she was “very concerned” about her team in Gaza after losing contact with them.
“All humanitarians and the children and families they serve must be protected,” Russell added.
While communications are mostly cut off, people with Israeli or international SIMs seem to have some connectivity, according to Jawwal, a local telecommunications provider.
This story is developing and will be updated.