Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
alert-–-trail-of-destruction-left-by-israel’s-night-of-rage:-hundreds-of-buildings-in-gaza-are-turned-to-rubble-by-airstrike-blitz-with-idf-troops-still-inside-enclave-in-‘rolling-start’-to-invasion-as-more-tanks-line-up-on-borderAlert – Trail of destruction left by Israel’s night of rage: Hundreds of buildings in Gaza are turned to rubble by airstrike blitz with IDF troops still inside enclave in ‘rolling start’ to invasion as more tanks line up on border

Gazans who have refused to leave the north of the enclave despite Israel’s warnings to do so are living in a state of ‘panic, fear and chaos’ amid the heaviest bombardments yet since October 7 and a total communications blackout.

Shocking images were leaked out of the Palestinian occupied territory on Saturday as bombardments deprived civilians, journalists and aid agencies of electricity, internet or phone signal.

Israel has deployed ground troops and tanks in Gaza after bombarding 150 ‘underground targets’ said to harbour Hamas terrorists across the north of the region; more vehicles and thousands of troops are gathering in Israeli border towns.

‘Terror tunnels, underground combat spaces and additional underground infrastructure’ were struck, the military said, adding that ‘several Hamas terrorists were killed’. 

Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said: ‘The operation in Gaza is to continue until there is a new order.’  

Israel stepped up its aerial assault on northern parts of the enclave overnight, claiming to target around 150 ‘underground targets’ harbouring Hamas terrorists 

People gather amid the destruction around the Al-Shatee camp on Saturday after the latest round of bombardments

Women walk past a destroyed building in the southern Gazan city of Rafah on Saturday

Families pass by scenes of devastation in Gaza on Saturday morning after Israel carried out its most intense campaign of bombardment yet following the October 7 attacks

Smoke rises from an explosion in Gaza on Saturday. Israel says forces are ‘still deployed out there and continuing their campaign’

Israeli troops give a thumbs-up to a photographer as they pass through the border town of Sderot, less than a kilometre from Gaza

 People gather in the streets at the Al-Shatee refugee camp in northern Gaza, which was subjected to heavy bombardment by Israel overnight into Saturday

Israel is beginning to allow humanitarian aid to access southern Gaza while bombarding the north, amid claims it had killed two ‘spearhead’ Hamas commanders, including an architect of the October 7 attacks that killed 1,400 Israelis.

However, calls have been made by observers to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as the Palestinian death toll shot past 7,700, according to the Gazan health ministry; the toll is said to include more than 3,000 children. 

With the internet cut, Palestinians in Gaza traveled by foot or car to check on their relatives and friends after a night of airstrikes described by some as the most intense they had witnessed, even during previous Gaza wars.

BBC correspondent Rushi Abualouf, speaking from the southern city of Khan Younis, said: ‘We have had no communication here for the last 10 hours as Israel cut internet lines, fibre lines, also the two main mobile carriers were stopped, so people were unable to communicate with each other.

‘(It is) a state of panic, fear and chaos; very chaotic scenes in the street. People don’t know what to do in these circumstances.’

‘The bombs were everywhere, the building was shaking,’ said Hind al-Khudary, a journalist in central Gaza and one of a few people with cell phone service.

‘We can’t reach anyone or contact anyone. I do not know where my family is.’

Human Rights Watch warned the information blackout ‘risks providing cover for mass atrocities and contributing to impunity for human rights violations.’

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, which runs shelters and schools for nearly half of all displaced Gaza residents, has lost contact with most of its staff, spokeswoman Juliette Touma said on Saturday. 

She said that coordinating aid efforts was now ‘extremely challenging.’

Tedros Adhanom, head of the World Health Organization, said the blackout has made it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured. 

‘We are still out of touch with our staff and health facilities. I’m worried about their safety,’ he wrote on X ,formerly known as Twitter.

Another innocent Palestinian civilian was killed today as Bilal Abu Salah, 40, was ‘shot in the chest by a settler’ in the village of Sawiya near Nablus, a ministry statement said.

Sawiya mayor Mahmud Hassan said Abu Salah was killed while he was harvesting olives with other members of his family in their fields located not far from the security fence around Rechelim settlement.

‘They were attacked by four settlers, and one of them who was armed with an M16 rifle opened fire at them without warning,’ Hassan said.

‘Abu Salah was hit in the chest and was martyred in front of his family and children.’

Elsewhere, Melanie Ward, chief executive of charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday that she had not been able to reach humanitarian workers operating within Gaza since 4pm on Friday.

She added: ‘Phones won’t connect, WhatsApp messages won’t deliver – we are desperately worried for all of our colleagues.’

Speaking earlier on Saturday, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said: ‘On the humanitarian aspect: to all Gaza residents who have moved on south of the Gaza stream we are going to increase our humanitarian efforts. 

‘More trucks carrying food, meds and water will enter. Anybody in that area which is safe will receive water, medication and food.’

UN trucks carrying humanitarian aid roll up in the Palestinian city of Deir al-Balah; Israel had promised to allow aid agencies in via Egypt

Palestinians carry food aid from a UN-run supply centre on Saturday morning as deliveries were made from the southern border with Egypt

Men carry boxes of UN-issued humanitarian aid after it was delivered to the Palestinian occupied Gaza territory on Saturday

Palestinians examine destroyed buildings in Gaza City on Saturday. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is sending ground troops and armoured vehicles into the occupied territory

A young boy holds up a fake flower he round in the rubble of a building following Israel’s intensifying aerial strikes on Friday night

A man sits in front of devastated buildings and rubble in the streets of Gaza City on Saturday after fierce overnight bombardment carried out by Israel

Wreckage of collapsed buildings and trees in the southern city of Rafah, Gaza, on Saturday

UN trucks carrying aid have been arriving in Gaza today; images show people carrying staple food supplies and boxes of goods.

But amid the blackouts, aid workers are concerned that they cannot communicate effectively in trying to distribute other aid.

Melanie Ward, chief executive of charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday that she had not been able to reach humanitarian workers operating within Gaza since 4pm on Friday.

She added: ‘Phones won’t connect, WhatsApp messages won’t deliver – we are desperately worried for all of our colleagues.’

Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Program, said the organization was ‘extremely worried’ about aid workers and civilians in Gaza following the blackout preventing communications its team.

‘As conflict rages on, I am extremely worried for the safety of all humanitarian workers and civilians, she said on X. ‘We are at a tipping point. Humanity must prevail.’

Guillemette Thomas, Palestinian territories medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, said the aid group had not able to reach its team for more than 12 hours.

‘The situation is very difficult,’ she told The Associated Press. ‘We can’t communicate with our team. We don’t know whether they are safe.’

International observers have called for a cessation to the bombardment and the brokering of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres wrote on X: ‘I repeat my call for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of life-saving supplies at the scale needed. 

‘Everyone must assume their responsibilities. This is a moment of truth. History will judge us all.’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed on Saturday that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza runs counter to international law and risks creating a catastrophe that could last decades.

Lavrov made the comments, some of Moscow’s most critical of Israel yet, in an interview with the Belarusian state news agency Belta, which released them on Saturday.

An Israeli artillery emplacement fires a mortar shell towards the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Witnesses say the latest round of bombardment is some of the most brutal yet

A missile strikes a minaret in Gaza on Saturday – as Israel’s deadly overnight bombing of the enclave continued into the daytime

Israeli jeeps patrol a street in Sderot on the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday

Israeli tanks and off-road vehicles continue to gather along the border after the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it had sent troops and armour into Gaza 

‘While we condemn terrorism, we categorically disagree that you can respond to terrorism by violating the norms of international humanitarian law, including indiscriminately using force against targets where civilians are known to be present, including hostages that have been taken,’ said Lavrov. 

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said on Saturday that at least 7,703 people have been killed in the war with Israel that erupted on October 7.

More than 3,500 children were among the dead, the ministry added.

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.

UN chief Antonio Guterres warned Friday that Gaza faces ‘an unprecedented avalanche of human suffering’ due to lack of food, water and power during Israeli bombing in response to the Hamas attack.

‘I repeat my call for a humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of life-saving supplies,’ Mr Guterres said.

Before the war, about 500 trucks a day rolled into Gaza to bring in supplies, but in recent days the average is down to only 12, which enter from the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, he said.

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