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The Israeli military said Friday it was expanding its ground operations in Gaza as it unleashed one of the fiercest bombardments in three weeks of war with the territory’s Hamas rulers. breaking news
Huge orange flashes lit up the night sky over Gaza City as air strike after air strike hit the shattered territory, where internet access and the phone network were cut.
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said the army was “extending” its ground operations after two straight nights of tank incursions.
Hamas’s armed wing said it was fighting Israeli forces in two areas inside the Gaza Strip.
“We are confronting an Israeli ground incursion in Beit Hanoun (in the northern Gaza Strip) and in east Bureij (in the centre) and violent engagements are taking place on the ground,” the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement.
Israel has been building up to an expected ground invasion since Hamas fighters stormed across the border on October 7. It says that 1,400 people, nearly all civilians, were killed and more than 220 taken hostage.
The Hamas-run health ministry said Israeli strikes on Gaza had now killed 7,326 people, including more than 3,000 children. The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian disaster in the enclave of 2.4 million people as food, water and fuel runs out.
Hamas said that Israel had “doubled” the number of air strikes on Friday night as it made a new appeal for international efforts to halt the attacks.
But the Palestinian group declared itself “ready” for any invasion ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
“The remains of his soldiers will be swallowed up by the land of Gaza,” senior Hamas political bureau member Ezzat al-Rishaq said on Telegram.
In southern Israel, helicopters were heard close to the Gaza border as clouds of black smoke rose from the territory. Roads on the Israeli side were deserted.
The orange glow of the fires in Gaza City was clearly visible and roads on the Israeli side were deserted.
Most of the population, including the kibbutz communities that suffered most from the October 7 attacks, have been evacuated.
Hamas said all internet connections and communications across Gaza had been cut, and accused Israel of taking the measure “to perpetrate massacres with bloody retaliatory strikes from the air, land and sea”.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said ambulance services had been disrupted.
“We have completely lost contact with the operations room in the Gaza Strip and all our teams operating there,” it said on X, the former Twitter.
The Israeli army accused Hamas of abusing hospitals in Gaza for military purposes, an allegation Hamas swiftly denied.
© Agence France-Presse