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Israel-Hamas War: Phone-Internet Connections Down In Gaza Strip As Israel Expands Attacks, Hamas Continues To Fire Rockets

As the Israel-Hamas War completes three weeks, Israel has expanded attacks in Gaza Strip and Gaza-based Hamas and Lebanon-based Hezbollah show no sign of stopping rocket attacks on Israel.

Israeli tanks inside Gaza Strip during its expanded raids in the ongoing war with Hamas and other aligned groups.
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The phone and internet connectivity in Gaza Strip has suffered outages as Israel expanded operations in the region on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday. 

The Israeli airstrikes intensified on Friday evening and the overnight bombardment has been described as some of the most intense since the war began on October 7.

The Israeli military also carried out raids in Gaza on Friday night for the third night straight and said it struck Hamas personnel and its network of underground tunnels that the group uses to move around and shelter its weapons and personnel. It also said it killed a top Hamas leader in charge of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other aerial operations of the group. 

Even as Israel expands attacks inside Gaza, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon show no signs of stopping their rocket attacks on Israel. 

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation remains grim in Gaza as the United Nations (UN) has pressed for a "humanitarian ceasefire" and the UN General Ceasefire passed a non-binding resolution for the same. The resolution, however, rejected the call for the condemnation of the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas that started the ongoing conflict. At least 1,400 were killed in the attack, around 5,400 were injured, and more than 220 were abducted and taken as hostages to Gaza.

Israel followed the Hamas attack with airstrikes that have continued since then. The airstrikes aimed at taking down Hamas targets and facilities have also caused widespread Palestinian casualties, with the latest figures saying more than 7,000 have been killed in Gaza, including nearly 3,000 children, and around 19,000 have so far been injured in Israeli attacks. 

Phone, internet outages reported in Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip has reported widespread phone and internet service outages as Israel has expanded its attacks in the region. 

The internet freedom watchdog NetBlocks reported that internet access fell to below 10 per cent in Gaza, which was lowest in last many months. The major Palestinian telecommunications provider Jawwal said it was also cut off from Gaza.

The New York Times reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) and Red Cross have lost contact with their staffers inside Gaza. 

Media reporting using satellite links, however, has continued, but much of the reporting through internet has suffered a blow and media freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed concern at the developing situation in Gaza.

Trey Yingst of Fox News reported that the mobile connection of a Gazan source using an Israeli network —not a Palestinian network— was functioning and local cellular towers in Gaza were not functional at the moment.

Israel expands attacks in Gaza, strikes underground targets

Israel on Friday expanded its ongoing attacks in the Gaza Strip, with the bombardment being some of the most intense since the beginning of the war. 

For the third night straight, Israel conducted nightly raids in Gaza on Friday and struck Hamas personnel and launchpads. These ramped-up Israeli attacks and nightly incursions are seen as a sign that a full-fledged ground offensive is not too distant, which has been widely expected lately. 

The Israeli military says it killed Hamas's Asem Abu Rakaba, the Head of the group's aerial array that looked after Hamas' UAVs, drones, paragliders, aerial detection and defence. "He took part in planning the October 7 massacre and commanded the terrorists who infiltrated Israel on paragliders and was responsible for the drone attacks on IDF posts," said Israeli military in a statement.

The Times of Israel reported that the military believes it killed several Hamas personnel in ground clashes overnight. Visuals shared by the military show Israeli tanks in Gaza during daytime, suggesting that operations have extended into daytime as well and are no longer limited to nightly raids.

"The IDF infantry, combat engineering forces, and tanks still remain inside the Gaza Strip at this hour, as a ground operation continues. The IDF has described the raid as an 'expanded ground activity' rather than a full ground offensive," reported ToI.

The military also said it struck 150 underground targets in airstrikes. Hamas has constructed a wide network of underground tunnels in Gaza that the group uses to hide its personnel and weapons and also smuggle in weapon, attackers, and fuel. 

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, "The Air Force is striking underground targets very significantly. In addition to the attacks that we carried out in recent days, ground forces are expanding their activity this evening. The IDF is acting with great force… to achieve the objectives of the war."

Hamas and Hezbollah continue rocket attacks in Gaza

Even as the Palestinian toll in Israeli strikes continues to mount, the Gaza-based Hamas and Lebanon-based Hezbollah have continued to mount rocket attacks on Israel in a war that has now completed three weeks. 

The Israeli reports said rockets were fired at the Israeli communities of Nahal Oz and Nir Oz from Gaza on Saturday. This is in addition to attacks mounted on Friday.

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On Friday, Hezbollah launched anti-tank guided missiles and opened fire with light arms at Avivim and Misgav Am areas of Israel, according to The Times of Israel, which led to retaliatory Israeli strikes. 

Dozens of Israeli towns have been evacuated along the northern border with Lebanon and the major town of Sderot under Hamas fire has also been evacuated. The number of internally displaced persons inside Israel is around 1,20,000. 

More aid enters Gaza, Israel says it'd allow more aid

The trickle of aid continued to Gaza on Friday as a 10-member team of Red Cross entered with six trucks of humanitarian supplies. 

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While the United Nations (UN) has welcomed the supply of aid, it has said much more is needed. Various agencies of the UN have said that at least 100-200 trucks of aid are needed daily to mitigate the humanitarian crises in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced from the ongoing fighting and lack basic amenities like food, water, and medicines. Amid a short supply of fuel, which is not included in the aid being delivered, hospitals have been forced to wind down their operations amid a constant stream of wounded from Israeli strikes.

Euronews reported that the fresh supplies carried by the Red Cross were enough for 1-5,000 people and water purification tablets could serve 50,000 litres of water.

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"Our surgical team and medical supplies will help relieve the extreme pressure on Gaza’s doctors and nurses. But safe, sustained humanitarian access is urgently needed. This humanitarian catastrophe is deepening by the hour," said International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Director Fabrizio Carboni. 

Euronews further reported Hamas-run Gazan authorities as saying that at least 7,326 people, including around 3,000 children, have been killed since the start of the war and nearly 19,000 people have been injured.

Separately, The Times of Israel reported that the Israeli military is slated to allow more aid into Gaza but has not yet given the nod to supply of fuel, which it says could be used by Hamas in the ongoing war.

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"The Israeli military is set to allow significantly more humanitarian aid to enter the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt. The Israel Defense Forces is hoping that the additional food, water and medical supplies will encourage more Palestinians to leave the northern part of the Gaza Strip for its south," reported ToI.

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