Israeli forces have announced an expansion of their ground operations in northern Gaza, marking a significant escalation in the conflict. As the besieged enclave faces the most extensive Israeli bombardment since the war began, Hamas has vowed to respond with full force to the overnight ground operations. Israeli troops, supported by tanks, conducted brief incursions into Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday nights, but this third and largest offensive has resulted in the destruction of hundreds of buildings and houses, according to the Gaza Civil Defence.
Amid heavy air bombardments and communication disruptions imposed by Israel, Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants have been largely cut off from the outside world. United Nations officials, NGOs, and media outlets have faced challenges in reaching their teams on the ground.
Late on Friday, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari announced the expansion of ground activities in Gaza, accompanied by a significant show of force to achieve the war’s objectives. Israel had previously amassed a substantial number of troops along the border in anticipation of a broader ground offensive. Additionally, Israel claimed to have eliminated the individual responsible for Hamas’s air operations, although this assertion remains unverified. Overnight into Saturday, Israeli warplanes targeted 150 tunnels and underground bunkers in northern Gaza, considering them key targets in the ongoing offensive.
Hagari stated on Saturday that the army was progressing through the stages of the conflict, with infantry, armoured, engineering, and artillery forces participating in military activities, accompanied by heavy aerial firepower.