Israel says it is expanding ground operations in Gaza with internet outages

As the Israeli army carried out airstrikes early Saturday local time, the smoke in the Gaza Strip is rising and rising.

Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images

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Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images

As the Israeli army carried out airstrikes early Saturday local time, the smoke in the Gaza Strip is rising and rising.

Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images

TEL AVIV, Israel Ahead of a possible ground attack on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said its forces were “expanding” ground operations in Gaza on Friday night as the besieged area was plunged into communications and internet blackouts.

This announcement comes as the Israeli army has increased its bombings Gaza’s campaign to target underground infrastructure used by Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, whose deadly attack on Israel on October 7 sparked the current conflict.

Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers are stationed around the borders of Gaza, and in recent days Israeli tanks and troops have entered Gaza for limited incursions. It is supported by heavy air strikes and artillery.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the spokesman of the Israel Defense Forces, said: “Following the attacks we have carried out in the last few days, the ground forces are expanding their activities this evening.” He reiterated Israel’s call for Palestinians to flee to southern Gaza, where he said conditions would be “safer.”

An increase in the speed and intensity of operations could pave the way for Israel’s expected ground invasion of Gaza. The large-scale offensive is likely to be a major and deadly turning point in a war that has so far killed more than 1,400 people in Israel and 7,300 in Gaza, officials said.

Mark Rego, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in an interview with Fox News that Hamas “now feels the power of Israel.”

“We are increasing the pressure on Hamas. We are increasing the pressure they are under. Our military operations are ongoing,” Regev said.

When NPR asked if Friday’s operation marked a new phase in the war, Rego said, “No comment.”

Phone calls and text messages to and from Gaza were circulating around Friday evening. Paltel, a major Palestinian telecommunications company, said a barrage of airstrikes had cut off key communications infrastructure.

The company announced: Heavy bombardment in the past hour destroyed all remaining international routes connecting Gaza to the outside world. In a statement on the X social network site.

Aid groups said they had lost contact with their teams in Gaza and condemned the grave danger to civilians, health workers and other civilians.

“Hospitals and humanitarian operations cannot continue without communications, energy, food, water, medicine,” said Lynn Hastings, UN humanitarian aid coordinator in Gaza. He wrote on X.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said: “We are deeply concerned about the ability of our teams to continue to provide our emergency medical services, especially as this disruption affects the central emergency number ‘101’ and prevents ambulances from reaching the wounded and injured.” He wrote on X.

In response to the blackout, Hamas accused Israel of “intending to carry out more killings and genocides away from the eyes of the press and the world.”

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