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Gaza cut off from rest of world as Israeli bombing destroys telecom network

A plume of fire and smoke rise over Gaza buildings after Israels bombings this week. — AFP
A plume of fire and smoke rise over Gaza buildings after Israel’s bombings this week. — AFP

Israeli bombardment has crushed internet and telecommunication services in the Gaza Strip, disconnecting the vulnerable Palestinians from the rest of the world amid a brutal humanitarian crisis.

Following a massive round of Israeli bombings that illuminated the night sky over the gloomy region, services were suspended on Friday evening.

The primary emergency service in Gaza, the Palestinian Red Crescent, reported that the internet blackout has prevented them from accessing its operations room within the strip.

At least 7,326 people have died in Palestinian territory since the conflict with Israel began on October 7, as per a report released on Friday by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

This recent death toll includes 3,038 children, as stated by the ministry, and 18,967 people have been injured throughout Gaza.

As the conflict raged into its 21st day, the Israeli army, backed by fighter jets and drones, is preparing for a ground offensive, carrying out a land incursion into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas calls on world to ‘act immediately’ to stop Israeli bombardment

Hamas called on the world to “act immediately” Friday to stop Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, as intense strikes pounded the Palestinian territory.

“We call on the Arab and Muslim countries and the international community to take responsibility and act immediately to stop the crimes and series of massacres against our people,” Hamas said in a statement.

Israel’s ground forces expanding operations in Gaza

Israel’s chief military spokesman said on Friday that Israeli air and ground forces are speeding up operations in the Gaza Strip in response to reports of heavy bombing of the confined territory, where mobile phone and internet connections have been cut off.

“In the last hours, we intensified the attacks in Gaza,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a televised news briefing.

He claimed that the air force was striking tunnels and other infrastructure with great power.

“In addition to the attacks carried out in the last few days, ground forces are expanding their operations tonight,” he said, raising expectations that the long-anticipated ground invasion of Gaza may be beginning.

‘Israel has no right to break internation law’, says London Mayor

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war on Friday, going beyond his Labour Party’s calls for a humanitarian pause in combat to let aid into the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip.

Khan said, “No nation including Israel has the right to break the international law.”

However, his statements slighlty differed from his personal and official X accounts.

From his official account he called on Hamas to stop its terrorist activities and release Israeli hostages before denouncing Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Hamas rejects Israeli accusation it has abused hospitals

Hamas fired back on Friday at an accusation by the Israeli army that it was abusing hospitals to shield its war effort, calling the charges unfounded.

“There´s no basis in truth in what the spokesman of the enemy army stated,” said Izzat al-Rishq, a senior member of the Hamas political bureau. He accused Israel of making the allegations to “pave the way for a new massacre to be committed against our people”.

The Israeli army Friday accused Hamas of using hospitals in the Gaza Strip as operational centres for directing attacks against Israel, as the war rages in the Palestinian territory.

“Hamas wages war from hospitals” in Gaza, military spokesman Daniel Hagari told journalists, adding that the group was also using fuel stored in these facilities for carrying out its operations.

Hagari specifically identified Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, as one from which Hamas was operating.

“Terrorists move freely” in Shifa and other hospitals, he said.

Rocket hits building in Tel Aviv

Local media sources claim that a flurry of rockets was fired into Tel Aviv, Israel, on Friday, with one of them hitting a structure.

Real-time postings on The Times of Israel claim that rocket alarms went off throughout the Israeli metropolis, including the neighbouring suburbs.

Three people experienced mild to moderate injuries, as reported by the nation’s rescue services unit.

Almost half of Israelis opposed to ‘immediate’ Gaza ground invasion: poll

Nearly half of Israelis are opposed to an “immediate” military ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, according to a survey published Friday that was cited by the daily newspaper Maariv.

According to the poll by the Panel4All institute, 49% of respondents said it would be better to “wait” before launching a ground offensive on the besieged Palestinian territory.

Just 29% of respondents said the offensive should start “immediately”.

The poll was carried out on October 25 and 26 with 522 people questioned for the survey in the country of approximately 10 million.

Last week, 65% of those surveyed by the same institute said that they supported a military invasion of the Gaza Strip, according to Maariv. However, that survey did not specify the timing of the operation.

The publishing of the polling data comes as tens of thousands of troops have massed around Gaza’s borders following the October 7 attack, when Hamas stormed communities across southern Israel — killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and snatching at least 229 hostages.

Israel destroys Shireen Abu Akleh’s memorial in West Bank

The memorial honouring the late Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, which stood at the entrance to the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, has been demolished by Israeli army bulldozers.

“Israeli forces stormed the city of Jenin and the outskirts of its camp, and a military bulldozer began razing Martyr Abu Akleh Street and her memorial,” witnesses said on Friday.

The witnesses explained that “the army deliberately vandalised the street and destroyed the memorial of Abu Akleh.”

Israel orders Manara settlement residents to stay in shelters

Israel has ordered the residents of the Manara settlement to stay in shelters due to security concerns, as Israel-Lebanon border tensions continue.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese group and ally of Hamas launched a guided missile towards the Israeli-occupied Manara settlement as part of ongoing border distress between Israel and the Lebanese group.

A big plume of smoke was reported to have been witnessed by the people nearby as a result of the exchange of rocket attacks, as per the report by Geo news journalists Ali Imran Syed and Tariq Abul Hassan.

Hamas demands pause in Israeli bombing for releasing hostages

A Hamas official Friday said that the release of hostages in Gaza was linked to a ceasefire in Israel’s punishing air war in the enclave, launched after a deadly rampage by Hamas fighters into southern Israel nearly three weeks ago.

“They seized dozens of people, most of them civilians, and we need time to find them in the Gaza Strip and then release them,” Abu Hamid said.

He said Hamas, which has freed four hostages so far, had made clear since the first days of the war that it intended to release “civilian prisoners”.

But he said a “calm environment” was needed to complete this task, repeating an assertion – which Reuters could not verify — that the Israeli bombing had already killed 50 of the prisoners.

‘Many more will die’

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees on Friday issued a dire warning over the humanitarian situation as a result of the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza.

“As we speak people in Gaza are dying, they are not only dying from bombs and strikes, soon many more will die from the consequences of (the) siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” said UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini.

He called for “meaningful and uninterrupted” aid to the coastal territory as he confirmed 57 of the agency’s staff had been killed during the war.

Ground forces incursion

Israel’s army said Friday its infantry backed by fighter jets and drones carried out a “targeted raid” in central Gaza, its second incursion in as many days.

“The IDF identified and struck numerous terror targets, including anti-tank missile launch sites, military command and control centres, as well as Hamas terrorists,” it said, adding troops “exited the area at the end of the activity”.

The incursions come after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated this week that Israel was “preparing for a ground offensive”.

US-Iran tensions

The United States on Thursday warned Iran against any escalation as it struck facilities in Syria it says were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and others.

“The precision self-defence strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

The strikes followed a direct warning Thursday from President Joe Biden to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against the strikes on US troops, the White House said.

The United States has moved two aircraft carrier groups near Israel since the Hamas attacks in what it says is a bid to deter Iran and its proxies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, from broadening the conflict.

Drone falls in Egypt

Six people were lightly injured when an unidentified drone fell on the Egyptian town of Taba near the border with Israel on Friday, the army said.

The army spokesman said the drone crashed into “a building next to Taba hospital”, in the Red Sea town of the same name, across from the Israeli resort of Eilat.

Gaza war dead debate

Hamas on Thursday released a list of almost 7,000 names of people it said had been killed in Israeli strikes, after US President Biden had cast doubt on its figures.

The Palestinian group also said almost 50 Israeli hostages held in Gaza had been killed in Israeli bombing raids on the Palestinian territory.

UNRWA’s Lazzarini weighed in on the discussion on Friday, saying the Gaza health ministry’s figures had proven credible in past conflicts.

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