Israel said Saturday that the war against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas had "entered a new phase" in the Gaza Strip, three weeks after being arrested. triggered by the deadliest attack in Israeli history.
The UN has said it fears an “avalanche of human suffering” in this Palestinian territory where there are 2.4 million inhabitants who lack water, food, electricity, and who have been together since Friday without communications or internet.
Since October 7, the Israeli army has been relentlessly shelling the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for the Hamas attack since which more than 1,400 people were killed in Israel, mainly civilians that day, according to local authorities.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, said 7,703 people, mostly civilians, had been killed in Israeli bombings, the heaviest death toll since Israel's withdrawal from the Palestinian territory in 2005.
“We have entered a new phase in the war,” declared Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
According to Gaza Civil Defense spokesman Mahmoud Bassal, “hundreds buildings and houses were completely destroyed.”
The Israeli army intensified its bombings during the night from Friday to Saturday and carried out several incursions on the territory of approximately 360 m2. Saturday evening, Israeli armored vehicles and soldiers were still operating on the ground there, the army said.
Around “150 underground targets” were hit in the north of the Gaza Strip where, according to the army, Hamas directs its operations from a gigantic network of tunnels.
It reported “several Hamas terrorists killed” including a leader “having taken part in the organization of the October 7 massacre” which deeply traumatized Israeli society.
< /p> A photo taken from the Israeli town of Sderot shows a thick column of smoke rising above the northern Gaza Strip after an Israeli airstrike, October 28, 2023 © AFP – Aris MESSINIS
– “Battlefield” –
In the Shati refugee camp, on the outskirts of Gaza City, bombings caused significant damage.
“What happened in Chati is worse than an earthquake,” resident Alaa Mahdi, 54, told AFP. “It was bombing everywhere, the navy, the artillery and the planes.”
“In the streets, people became lifeless bodies walking,” Jihad Mahdi, a resident of Gaza City.
“We prefer to die inside our homes rather than go south,” assures Hasan Hammoud.
The Israeli army repeated its call for residents of Gaza (north) to “immediately leave” towards the south, saying that it now considers this city and its region a “battlefield”.
Bombing continued throughout the day on Gaza, as salvos of rockets were fired from Gaza towards southern Israel, wounding three people according to medics.
Israeli bombings on Gaza City, October 27, 2023 © AFP – Yousef Hassouna
Hamas also reported clashes between its fighters and soldiers in Beit Hanoun (north) and al-Boureij ( center).
– “Anguish” of hostage families –
Israeli tanks circulate near the town of Sderot in southern Israel, October 28, 2023 © AFP – Aris MESSINIS
At the end of “a night of immense anguish”, without sleep with the intensification of the bombings, the families of the hostages said they were “worried” about their fate and were received by the government.
According to the army, nearly 230 people, Israelis, dual nationals or foreigners, were kidnapped on October 7 by Hamas, which has since released four women. The Islamist movement, which had threatened to execute hostages, estimates that “nearly 50” of them were killed in Israeli bombings.
The military wing of Hamas said in a video on Saturday be prepared to release the hostages, in exchange for the release of all Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
Ifat Kalderon, whose cousin Ofer Kalderon is reportedly detained in Gaza with members of his family, told the 'AFP that she supported this type of exchange.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the hostages' families that he would explore “all options” to free the hostages.
A young girl looks at photos of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, during a sit-in in Tel Aviv, October 27, 2023 © AFP – GIL COHEN- MAGEN
The bombings on Gaza coincided with a communications and internet outage in Gaza.
NGOs and UN agencies reported having lost contact with their teams in Gaza.
Humanitarian operations and hospital activity “cannot continue without communications,” said Lynn Hastings, a UN official.
– Lack of anesthetic products –
< /p> The north of the Gaza Strip © AFP – Simon MALFATTO
On October 9, Israel imposed a “total siege” on Gaza, cutting off supplies of water, electricity and food, while the Palestinian territory had already been subject to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade for more than 16 years.
“Many more” people will “soon die” due to the siege, said the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini.
Some surgical operations are carried out without completely putting patients to sleep due to the shortage of anesthetic products, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned on Saturday.
Léo Cans, MSF head of mission in Jerusalem in charge of the Palestinian territories, recounted the operation this week of “a 10-year-old child, who had to amputate half of his left foot under half-sedation, on the hospital floor in the corridor because all the operating theaters were full.”
Since October 21, 84 trucks of humanitarian aid have arrived via Egypt, according to the UN, when it would take at least a hundred per day.
– Demonstrations –
Residents of Tel Aviv, in northern Israel, take shelter during a rocket attack, October 27, 2023 © AFP – GIL COHEN-MAGEN
Israel wants to “annihilate” the Islamist movement, in retaliation for October 7. That day, in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrated from Gaza onto Israeli soil, where they carried out the deadliest attack in Israeli history.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday accused the West of being “the main culprit of the massacres in Gaza”, calling Israel a “war criminal”.
Israel immediately announced that it would recall its diplomats of Turkey in order to “reassess relations” between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia, which had initiated a rapprochement with Israel before the war, denounced an “unjustified” violation of international law.
Thousands of people demonstrated abroad, in London and Paris in support of the Palestinians.
The international community fears a regional conflagration, while Iran, support of Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah, has issued warnings to the United States, a close ally of Israel.
A helicopter Israeli combat AH-65 Apache flies over the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, October 28, 2023 © AFP – Yuri CORTEZ
Tension is also very high in the West Bank occupied since 1967, where more than 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers since October 7.
On Israel's northern border with Lebanon, where exchanges of fire are almost daily between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, the headquarters of the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon was hit by a shell on Saturday, without causing any casualties.
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