Israel announced an expanded ground operation on Saturday after knocking out communications and creating a near-blackout of information in the Gaza Strip with increased bombardment and artillery fire overnight.
Explosions from continuous airstrikes lit up the sky over Gaza City for hours after nightfall Friday as the Israeli military said it was expanding ground operations in the territory, signaling a move closer to an all-out invasion of Gaza meant to crush the ruling Hamas militant group after its bloody rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
The Palestinian telecom provider, Paltel, said the bombardment caused “complete disruption” of internet, cellular and landline services as the besieged enclave’s 2.3 million people were largely cut off from contact with the outside world. Some satellite phones continued to function.
The Palestinian death toll passed 7,300. The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which tracks the toll, released a detailed list including names and ID numbers on Thursday. In the occupied West Bank, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids since the war's start three weeks ago.
More than 1,400 people were slain in Israel during the Hamas incursion, including at least 310 soldiers, according to the Israeli government. At least 229 hostages were taken into Gaza, and four hostages were released earlier.
1. AP photos: Scenes of sorrow and despair on both sides of Israel-Gaza border on week 3 of war
2. UN General Assembly calls for `humanitarian truce’ in Gaza leading to halt in Israel-Hamas fighting.
3. Israel-Hamas war upends years of conventional wisdom. Leaders give few details on what comes next
4. Data from the Gaza Health Ministry, questioned after the hospital explosion, has withstood past scrutiny.
5. About 30 children were taken hostage by Hamas militants. Their families wait in agony.
6. Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here’s what is happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:
CAIRO — Hamas has proclaimed Israel’s overnight ground incursion to be a failure.
Hamas said in a statement Saturday that its military arm, Qassam Brigades, used anti-tank Kornet rockets and mortar shelling to repel the attack and claimed its fighters inflicted casualties among Israeli troops. The militant group did not provide evidence.
Qassam Brigades said late Friday its fighters were clashing with Israeli troops in the town of Beit Hanoun in northwestern Gaza and in Al-Bureij in central Gaza.
Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, said it fired a barrage of rockets Saturday morning on the Kissufim kibbutz, northwest of the Negev desert.
Israel’s military announced it shot down a missile fired at an Israeli drone from Lebanon Saturday. It was not immediately clear if the missile was fired by Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group.
Lebanese security officials said two missiles were fired toward an Israeli drone flying over Lebanon but did not hit the target.
JERUSALEM — The families of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas warned they will begin protesting if Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant do not meet with them Saturday.
A spokesperson for the families said they plan to gather at a central square in Tel Aviv. They want the meeting because of increased apprehension about their loved ones after Israel ramped up attacks on Gaza overnight Friday.
The military's claim it is targeting tunnel infrastructure has prompted fear among the families that military leaders are being cavalier with the lives of the hostages, who are believed to be held inside the tunnels.
Israel is expanding its ground operation in Gaza with infantry and armored vehicles backed by “massive” strikes from the air and sea, the Israeli military spokesman said Saturday.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said “the forces are still on the ground and are continuing the war.”
Troops previously conducted brief nightly ground incursions before returning to Israel.
Earlier Saturday, the military released videos showing columns of armored vehicles moving slowly in open, sandy areas of Gaza, the first visual confirmation of ground troops. The military said warplanes bombed dozens of Hamas tunnels and underground bunkers.
Journalists inside Gaza who were able to communicate with the outside world said there was intense Israeli bombardment in northern Gaza overnight and early Saturday.
“The raids were very intense from artillery shelling and air raids. There is an explosion, gunfire and clashes are heard on the border,” journalist Mohammed Abdel-Rahman told The Associated Press.
They heard sounds of clashes Saturday morning on the western borders of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza and “artillery shelling from time to time, intermittent and not continuous," Abdel-Rahman said.
Another journalist, Anas al-Sharif, reported shelling close to the Indonesian hospital in Beit Lahia and said rescuers have retrieved wounded people and many bodies from rubble across northern Gaza.
Israel’s military also announced Saturday it had struck and killed a top Hamas naval operative, Ratib Abu Tzahiban, who it says orchestrated an attempted naval attack in Israel on Oct. 24. It was unclear if the military was referring to an episode when a group of Hamas divers were repelled after trying to infiltrate Israel on a beach north of Gaza.
CAIRO — The U.N. health agency and other aid groups said Saturday they remain unable to communicate with their teams in the besieged Gaza Strip during intense Israeli air and land bombardment.
Tedros Adhanom, head of the World Health Organization, said the blackout has made it “impossible for ambulances to reach the injured.”
“We are still out of touch with our staff and health facilities. I’m worried about their safety,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Program, said the organization was “extremely worried” about aid workers and civilians in Gaza following the blackout preventing communications its team.
“As conflict rages on, I am extremely worried for the safety of all humanitarian workers and civilians, she said on X. “We are at a tipping point. Humanity must prevail.”
UNWRA, the U.N. agency for refugees, announced that as of Friday, 58 staff members had been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.
Juliette Touma, communications director, said in a text to the AP that the organization has very limited communications with its director currently in Rafah and is working to reestablish contact with its teams, including those in UNRWA shelters attempting to assist up to 600,000 displaced Palestinians.
Guillemette Thomas, Palestinian territories medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, said the aid group had not able to reach its team for more than 12 hours.
“The situation is very difficult,” she told The Associated Press. “We can’t communicate with our team. We don’t know whether they are safe.”
In the occupied West Bank, increased violence from Israeli settlers has prompted many Palestinians, particularly Bedouin communities, to flee. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories said Friday that settler violence in the West Bank has displaced more than 600 Palestinians, including 211 children.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said a settler shot dead a 40-year-old Palestinian man in the town of Sawiya in Nablus on Saturday.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — More than 3,000 protesters marched to the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy in Indonesia’s capital on Saturday to demand an end to the war and bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags, the protesters, many wearing white Islamic robes, filled a major thoroughfare in downtown Jakarta running outside the embassy. About 1,000 police were deployed around the compound, which is blocked off by concrete road barriers.
The protesters, organized by the Indonesian Ulema Council, known as MUI, chanted “God is Great” and “Freedom for Palestine” during the noisy but peaceful protest. Banners and placards proclaimed, “We stand with Gaza,” and slammed the Israeli government while denouncing the staunch U.S. support of Israel.
“We are not willing to allow our brothers and sisters in Palestine to be tyrannized or genocided by Israel,” MUI Secretary General of MUI Amirsyah Tambunan told the crowd. “We will continue to support and fight for Palestinian independence and sovereignty.”
NEW YORK – Hundreds of protesters in black T-shirts filled New York City’s iconic Grand Central Terminal during the evening rush hour on Friday to demand a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Many of the protesters were detained by police and taken out of the station, their hands zip tied behind their backs. The NYPD could not immediately say how many were taken into custody.
“Hundreds of Jews and friends are taking over Grand Central Station in a historic sit-in calling for a ceasefire,” advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace said on social media.
Inside the main concourse, protesters wearing shirts that read “cease-fire now” and “not in our name” chanted, with some holding banners in front of the list of departure times. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority asked commuters to use Penn Station as an alternative.
The scene echoed last week’s sit-in where more than 300 people were arrested for illegally demonstrating on Capitol Hill in Washington.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – The dull orange glow of Israeli flares shone in the night sky over Gaza, slowly descending through the haze to illuminate targets for warplanes before eventually flickering out, plunging the scene back into darkness.
Multiple explosions from Israeli airstrikes tore into northern Gaza on Friday, quick flashes of bright orange silhouetted against the rooftops of Palestinian apartments and refugee camps. The sharp crunching sound of the bombs followed each time, seconds later, one after another.
Overhead, the buzz of Israeli military drones cut through, growing quieter and louder as the crafts circled the airspace.
For most Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip, their world has shrunk to these few sounds and colors.
Israel dramatically ramped up its bombardment Friday after knocking out internet and communication in Gaza, largely cutting off the tiny besieged enclave’s 2.3 million people from contact with each other and the outside world.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution on Friday calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza leading to a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
It was the first U.N. response to Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and Israel’s ongoing Military response and vow to obliterate Hamas.
The 193-member world body adopted the resolution by a vote of 120-14 with 45 abstentions after rejecting a Canadian amendment backed by the United States to unequivocally condemn the “terrorist attacks” by Hamas and demand the immediate release of hostages taken by the militant group.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Premature babies wiggle and squirm, some with oxygen tubes under their noses, in rows of clear plastic incubators inside the neonatal unit of Gaza’s largest hospital, which, like the rest of the besieged Palestinian territory, is running out of fuel, food, water and electricity.
Doctors in Gaza say conditions have reached catastrophic levels. They say a lack of basic supplies has left them struggling to maintain hygiene and sanitation, and hospital grounds are overcrowded with displaced civilians seeking refuge from Israeli airstrikes.
“We have noticed an increase in premature birth cases,” said Dr. Nasser Bulbul, head of the NICU at al-Shifa Hospital.
“We had to perform a premature delivery of the fetus from the mother’s womb while she’s dying,” he said. “Many of these infants are orphaned, and we don’t know the fate of their relatives or have information about their identities.”
Around 50,000 pregnant women are caught up in the conflict, with around 5,500 due to give birth within the next 30 days, according to the United Nations Population Fund.
If fuel supplies run out, neonatal intensive care units will be impacted and planned or emergency caesarean sections will be impossible, the U.N. agency said.
NEW YORK — The Committee to Protect Journalists says the past three weeks have been the deadliest on record for journalists covering coNFLict since the organization started tracking in 1992.
The organization said in a statement Friday that at least 29 journalists have died covering the Israel-Hamas war since it ignited Oct. 7, including 24 Palestinians, four Israelis and 1 Lebanese. Additionally, 8 other journalists were reported injured and 9 were reported missing or detained.
CPJ also criticized the cutting of communications services in the Gaza Strip, warning that the blackout is also a “news blackout” that has compromised the public’s ability to “know and understand what is happening in this conflict.”
“This can lead to serious consequences with an independent, factual information vacuum that can be filled with deadly propaganda, dis- and misinformation,” it said.
The organization stressed that journalists are civilians that must be respected and protected in accordance with international humanitarian law, adding that “deliberating targeting journalists or media infrastructure constitutes possible war crimes.”
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