Hamas will feel Israel’s ‘wrath’, a top political adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu warned as Israeli warplanes tonight unleashed airstrikes of ‘unprecedented’ intensity across all parts of the Gaza strip.
The relentless bombardment came as Israeli defence chiefs confirmed IDF troops were ‘expanding operations’ across the enclave, in a move military experts say signalled the impending full-scale ground invasion of the territory.
Ahead of the onslaught, Palestinian civilians were warned by the IDF to flee to the south of Gaza, before missiles then slammed into the Hamas-controlled region, razing buildings to the ground and bathing the skyline in an apocalyptic orange glow, as fire raged.
The bombing, which observers described as much more ferocious and louder than previous days, coincided with electricity and communications blackouts in much of the besieged enclave.
According to one report the Israelis even unleashed ‘bunker buster’ concussion missiles to try and destroy the extensive Hamas tunnel network under Gaza.
IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari telling reporters at a press conference today: ‘In recent hours we have increased the attacks in Gaza.
‘The air force widely attacks underground targets and terrorist infrastructure, very significantly.
‘In continuation of the offensive activity we carried out in the last few days, the ground forces are expanding the ground activity this evening.’
Speaking to MSNBC, Israeli political adviser Mark Regev claimed Hamas will pay for what he said were its crimes against humanity.
Gaza was bathed in an apocalyptic orange glow as fires raged after a relentless bombardment
Huge plumes of smoke could be seen rising across the Hamas-controlled territory
The strikes have almost completely Gaza’s telecommunications infrastructure
Communication from Gaza were reportedly cut in the bombardment (pictured)
IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari (pictured) said a press conference today: ‘In recent hours we have increased the attacks in Gaza. The air force widely attacks underground targets and terrorist infrastructure, very significantly’
He told Fox News in a separate interview tonight that the Gaza Strip would look ‘very different’ after ‘this is over.’
He told Fox News tonight: ‘We are beefing up the pressure on Hamas. We’re increasing the pressure that they’re under. Our military operations are underway.
‘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. When this is over, Gaza will be very different.’
The IDF said tonight it was expanding its bombardment campaign against Gaza, and was ‘working powerfully in all dimensions’ to achieve its military goals.
Hamas returned fire with a ‘salvo’ of rockets, though it not known how many were caught by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.
The terror group also called on those in the West Bank and ‘1948 territories’ – a term used by Palestinians meaning Israel in reference to when it was founded – to take up arms as Israel’s ground invasion begins.
Hamas reportedly said that it held Israel, the US and Western nations which support Israel ‘fully responsible for the series of heinous massacres’ against the people of Gaza
It was not clear whether the latest development in the bloodiest conflict between Hamas and Israel was a threat of a full invasion or a bigger but similar ‘probe’ to those launched on Wednesday and Thursday nights, with the troops returning by dawn.
Former General Wesley Clark, former NATO Allied Commander told CNN he believed the operation was a preparatory ‘softening up’ operation, rather than the full-scale invasion, adding that each probe yielded vital intelligence about how the Hamas defenders reacted.
Video footage of the ‘unprecedented’ bombing campaign saw Gaza’s night sky light up bright orange, as the explosion was heard from miles away.
The increased bombardment campaign saw fires being set across the city, billowing thick smoke into the night sky.
The Hamas government said the Israel bombardment campaign ‘cut communications and most of the internet’ across the Gaza Strip, and accused the IDF of taking the measure ‘to perpetrate massacres with bloody retaliatory strikes from the air, land and sea.’
Gaza has been bombed nonstop for nearly three straight weeks
Hamas accused Israel of increasing its missile strikes to ‘perpetrate massacres with bloody retaliatory strikes from the air, land and sea’
Gaza has tonight been bombed by Israeli airplanes, following an increased bombardment campaign by the IDF
Several Palestinian telecoms providers announced ‘the total cut of all communication services and internet’ in the territory, leaving the hundreds of thousands of civilians in a communications blackout.
Global internet monitor NetBlocks reported ‘a collapse in connectivity in the Gaza Strip,’ citing live network data.
NGOs working in Gaza have claimed the move may be deadly for the enclave’s citizens, with the Palestinian Red Crescent, the main emergency service in Gaza, saying it was cut off from its operations room in the strip because of the internet blackout.
It said in a statement tonight: ‘We are deeply concerned about the ability of our teams to continue providing their emergency medical services, especially since this disruption affects the central emergency number ‘101’ and hinders the arrival of ambulance vehicles to the wounded and injured.’
Hamas returned fire with a ‘salvo’ of rocket fire, though it is not known whether these were effective
The Hamas rockets have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system
The group’s director Marwan Jilani, told Al Jazeera that it lost contact with its Gazan team several hours ago.
‘We’re extremely worried and concerned for our colleagues,’ he said.
‘Apart from the humanitarian catastrophe that has been happening before the world’s eyes the last few days, we are now facing a total darkness. We don’t know what’s happening.
‘We’re really scared and we’re shaken to the core.’
ActionAid, an NGO that works to alleviate poverty across the world, said it was gravely concerned that it has lost contact with its team in Gaza.
The charity said in a statement: ‘We are gravely concerned for their safety and that of all the people of Gaza as signs grow of a major land escalation following almost three weeks of bombardment.
‘We urgently call for the restoration of communication channels, as this is not only a matter of principle but also one of practical necessity.’
Oxfam said it was ‘deeply concerned’ with tonight’s developments in Gaza, ‘especially the total loss of communication’ in the Strip.
The NGO called for a ceasefire ‘to protect innocent lives.’
The Palestinian death toll passed 7,300 as Israel launched waves of airstrikes
NGOs have already said that Israel’s latest bombardment campaign may be deadly for Gazans
Several NGOs have said they cannot communicate with their Gazan colleagues
The IDF said tonight it was expanding its bombardment campaign against Gaza
Former General Wesley Clark, former NATO Allied Commander told CNN he believed the operation was a preparatory ‘softening up’ operation
Israel says it is expanding its ground operation tonight
Witnesses said the Israeli forces unleashed artillery and tank fire on Gaza as well as the ‘unprecedented’ airstrikes
Witnesses said the Israeli forces unleashed artillery and tank fire on Gaza as well as the ‘unprecedented’ airstrikes.
IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari highlighted the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City earlier today, claiming that it was being used as a Hamas command and control facility and added: ‘We continue with our efforts to identify and intercept terrorist cells all the time.’
Hamas denied they were using the hospital.
The IDF has warned that Gaza hospitals that are being used ‘terror facilities’ by Hamas may soon lose rights afforded to them under international law.
IDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told Sky News: ‘We’ve been telling people to leave the north of the Gaza Strip, and we’ve made several calls to the al Shifa hospital.
‘Those calls have not been responded to and are not being adhered to.
‘Now we understand why – because Hamas is preventing people from moving, Hamas is limiting their capability.
‘If these actions continue from hospitals under certain conditions, indeed hospitals could lose their protections that they’re entitled to.’
The IDF’s position was condemned by international watchdog Human Rights Watch.
The UN overwhelming voted to call for a humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas, a move that was condemned by Israel officials
An Israeli armoured personnel carrier is pictured moving into position near Gaza tonight
Flares fired by the Israeli army light up the sky east of Khan Yunis on the southern Gaza Strip on October 27
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, condemned Israel’s current position on the rights afforded to Gaza hospitals under international law.
He said: ‘The Israeli army statement on Gaza hospitals raises grave concerns for the safety of patients and medical workers.
‘If accurate, the use of medical facilities by Palestinian armed groups for military operations is alarming and violates the laws of war.
‘But hospitals have special protections that they only lose if being used to “commit acts harmful to the enemy,” and after due warning. Doctors, nurses, and ambulances have to be permitted to do their work and be protected in all circumstances.’
The new upsurge against Gaza in violence came as the foreign minister of neighbouring Jordan accused Israel of launching its long-anticipated ground war against Gaza, adding that the consequence of this will be a ‘humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.’
The international community today overwhelmingly appealed for a humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas, as the UN’s general assembly voted through a resolution in New York.
The resolution also called for ‘the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive,’ though it does not name Hamas as the captor.
But the move was condemned by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s envoy to the world body, who accused the UN of supporting ‘Nazi terrorists’, referring to Hamas.
He said the international body had no legitimacy or relevance, and added that the only way to destroy Hamas was to ‘root them out of their tunnels and destroy their subterranean city of terror.’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urgently appealed for more aid deliveries to be allowed through to Gaza from Egypt.
‘The humanitarian system in Gaza is facing a total collapse with unimaginable consequences for more than 2 million civilians,’ Guterres said in a statement.
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 in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack
But despite this, the United States said it supports a pause in Israeli military operations in Gaza to get humanitarian aid, fuel and electricity to civilians there.
White House spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that if getting hostages out of Gaza requires a localised temporary pause, then the United States is in support of that.
He added: ‘We’re not drawing red lines for Israel. We’re going to continue to support them.
‘Since the very beginning we have, and will continue to have, conversations about the manner that they are doing this.’
British political figures reacted to the news of the IDF’s increased bombardment campaign.
Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf, whose parents-in-law are still trapped in Gaza, wrote today in a post to X, formerly Twitter:
‘Gaza is under intense bombing. Telecommunications have been cut.
‘We can’t get through to our family who have been trapped in this war zone for almost 3 weeks.
‘We can only pray they survive the night. How many more children have to die before the world says enough?’
Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West & Abingdon, and the Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson for FCDO & Science, Tech and Innovation, said in a post to X, formerly Twitter: ‘Fresh hell looks to be unleashed tonight.
‘We need to create an international movement for a lasting peace as remote as it may feel. These scenes must never be repeated.’
The MP said in a previous post minutes before: ‘Every night I go to sleep afraid of what new heart-wrenching developments I am going to wake up to. But tonight, I may not be able to sleep at all. Please let me be wrong.’
The Palestinian death toll passed 7,300 as Israel launched waves of airstrikes in response to the bloody Hamas rampage in southern Israel on October 7.
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 in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack.
In addition, 229 people, including foreigners, children and older adults, were taken by Hamas during the incursion and remain in captivity in Gaza.So far, four hostages were released earlier.
More to follow.