The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas intensified after Israel stepped up its air and ground attacks in Gaza, and the Palestinian militant group vowing to confront the Israeli forces with “full force”.
Israel's extensive strikes have raised the possibility of a ground invasion of Gaza. "In addition to the attacks carried out in the last few days, ground forces are expanding their operations tonight," Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a televised news briefing on Friday evening. He added that Israel's air force was conducting strikes on tunnels dug by Hamas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told MSNBC that "Gaza will feel our wrath tonight”. “They will continue to be on the receiving end of our military blows until we have dismantled their military machine and dissolve their political structure in Gaza," he told Fox News. "When this is over, Gaza will be very different.”
The Hamas, however, are in no mood to back off. "The Al-Qassam brigades and all the Palestinian resistance forces are completely ready to confront (Israel's) aggression with full force and frustrate its incursions," the group said in a statement early on Saturday. "Netanyahu and his defeated army will not be able to achieve any military victory."
More than 1,400 people were killed in Israel, as per the government, after the Hamas attacked Israeli communities and establishments near the Gaza Strip on October 7. According to the Israeli government, at least 229 hostages were taken into Gaza. Since then, Israel has been conducting strikes in Gaza, which has left more than 7,000 dead, as per the territory's health ministry.
UN backs call for humanitarian truce
On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly backed a resolution drafted by Arab states calling for an immediate humanitarian truce and demanded aid access to Gaza and protection of civilians. It passed to a round of applause with 121 votes in favour, while 44 abstained and 14 – including Israel and the United States - voted no.
Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan rejected the resolution, saying the U.N. no longer holds any legitimacy or relevance. "This ridiculous resolution has the audacity to call for truce. The goal of this resolution truce is that Israel should cease to defend itself to Hamas, so Hamas can light us on fire," he said after the vote.
Near-blackout in Gaza
Israel knocked out internet and communications in the Gaza Strip, largely cutting off its 2.3 million people from contact with each other and the outside world and creating a near-blackout of information.
Explosions from continuous airstrikes lit up the sky over Gaza city for hours after nightfall. Palestinian telecom provider, Paltel, said the bombardment caused complete disruption of internet, cellular and landline services. The cutoff meant that casualties from strikes and details of ground incursions could not immediately be known. Some satellite phones continued to function.
Already plunged into darkness after most electricity was cut off weeks ago, Palestinians were thrown into isolation, huddling in homes and shelters with food and water supplies running out.
The Red Crescent Society said it had completely lost contact with its Gaza operations room.