Gaza was largely cut off from the outside world on Saturday after Israel expanded air and ground operations and suggested its long-promised ground offensive against the Hamas militants controlling the Palestinian enclave had begun.
Israel said on Saturday morning its troops, sent in on Friday night, were still in the field, without elaborating. The country had earlier made only brief sorties into Gaza during three weeks of bombardment to root out Hamas militants, who it said had killed 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, on October 7.
he forces are still in the field and continuing the war,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a news briefing on Saturday morning.
Gaza was under an almost complete communications blackout, with internet and phone services cut for more than 12 hours by Saturday morning. The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israel had cut the communications.
Hagari also said Israel would allow trucks carrying food, water and medicine to enter Gaza on Saturday, indicating that bombing might pause, at least in the area of its border with Egypt where small amounts of aid have been arriving.
Aid agencies have said a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Gaza, whose 2.3 million people are under a total Israeli blockade. Health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave have said more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s bombardment began.
The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the blackout was “making it impossible” for ambulances to reach the injured in Gaza.
“Evacuation of patients is not possible under such circumstances, nor to find safe shelter,” he said on X.