Israel cuts off all communications, carries out most brutal attacks since Oct. 7
- 7,760 Palestinians killed and 19,450 wounded in Gaza
- 111 Palestinians killed and 1,950 wounded in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
- 1,405 Israelis killed and 5,445 wounded
- Israeli bombardments have nearly completely destroyed what was left of Gaza’s telecommunications network, plunging the Palestinian territory into a near-total communications blackout.
- Simultaneously, Israel has ramped up its aerial and ground operations to unprecedented levels while making it nearly impossible to ascertain the scale of human and material damages at this time.
- Meanwhile, the U.S. government has clearly stated that it will do nothing to stop the decimation of Gaza, with White House spokesperson John Kirby saying there were no “red lines” for Israel.
- The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, while the Security Council remains silent.
- Violence is further ratcheting up elsewhere, with reports of at least one Palestinian killed in the occupied West Bank and rockets exchanged between Israel and Lebanon.
- Humanitarian organizations and protesters around the world continue to express their horror at and rejection of the unfolding catastrophe.
Israel cuts off communications in Gaza
Already plunged in the dark after Israel cut electricity access at the beginning of the onslaught, Gaza has now lost nearly all of its internet connectivity, internet and cybersecurity watchdog Netblocks confirmed on Friday evening, as cell towers for Paltel, the last remaining major operator standing in Gaza, were believed to be hit. Various reports seem to indicate that access to the internet in northern Gaza is almost completely gone, while communications out of southern Gaza are severely affected.
Palestinian Authority Minister of Telecommunications Ishaq Sidr confirmed on Saturday that Israeli bombardments had hit the last two points designated for international connection with the Gaza Strip. Satellite communications are now the only way for news outlets to transmit images out of Gaza.
U.N. bodies, non-governmental organizations, medical groups, news outlets, and countless individuals have reported being unable to reach colleagues, friends, and family trapped in Gaza, while communications within the Palestinian territory are also shut down — affecting, amongst other things, emergency medical services. Local sources are saying that first responders in Gaza are relying on the injured arriving in hospitals to tell them where the airstrikes took place.
With communications down, the odds of getting any official reports on the full scale of casualties of the last day of bombardment are incredibly slim. The Gaza Ministry of Health’s most recent toll shared on Saturday was 7,760 killed and 19,450 woundedin Gaza — and is only expected to increase dramatically from there.
“As news bureaus lose contact with their crews and reporters in Gaza, who are independently bearing witness to provide information about developments and the human toll of this war, the world is losing a window into the reality of all sides engaged in this conflict,” the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote on Friday, adding that the past three weeks had been “the deadliest period for journalists covering conflict since CPJ began tracking in 1992”, with at least 29 journalists killed.
Israel pummels Gaza at unprecedented levels
Israel ramped up its already intense assault on Gaza on Friday night, cutting off Palestinians in Gaza from the world and from each other as its military launched hundreds of airstrikes throughout the night and staged its most significant ground invasion yet into the tiny besieged Palestinian territory.
Israeli airstrikes were reported near al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Indonesia hospital in Beit Lahia, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, as well as shelling in Jabalia, Deir al-Balah, and al-Shati refugee camp. Israeli officials have ramped up their allegations in the past day that al-Shifa hospital sits above an alleged underground Hamas command center. The Israeli army is using an animated video and alleged recordings from Gaza as so-called proof of the veracity of its claims, likely to set the stage for another deadly attack on a hospital — where tens of thousands of civilians have taken refuge in recent weeks.
Gaza Civil Defense officials have meanwhile said that hundreds of buildings were “completely destroyed” overnight.
Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades have been engaged in violent confrontations with Israeli ground forces in the areas of Beit Hanoun and al-Bureij, with gunfire also reportedly heard east of Gaza City and Khan Younis.
Hamas official Ali Baraka said on Saturday that Israel had sustained “significant losses…both in soldiers and equipment.” The Israeli army, meanwhile, claimed to have killed Hamas’ naval force commander and the head of the Palestinian resistance group’s air force, and to have carried out at least 150 airstrikes overnight. Despite on-the-ground reports of civilian casualties and residential areas being hit, the Israeli army claimed that its airstrikes targeted “Hamas sites” in Gaza.
The Israeli army has not yet reported any casualties among its ranks and indicated on Saturday morning that its ground operations were still ongoing in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Palestinian resistance groups have reported firing rockets from Gaza towards southern Israeli cities, including Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot, and a number of other locations in the so-called Gaza envelope — as well as towards Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem.
The families of hostages captured by Hamas on October 7 have meanwhile expressed their deep concern that the intensification of Israel’s attack on Gaza could threaten the lives of their relatives.
“Anxiety, frustration, and especially enormous anger that nobody from the war cabinet bothered to meet with the families of the abductees to explain to them one thing — whether the ground operation endangers the safety of the 229 hostages in Gaza,” a statement from the families read.
As Israel intensifies its massacre of Palestinians, the U.S. government, which has already cast doubts on the veracity of death tolls coming out of Gaza, has further indicated that it won’t do anything to try and limit Israel’s already deadly onslaught on Gaza.
“We’re not drawing red lines for Israel,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said in a news briefing on Friday.
U.N. General Assembly votes overwhelmingly for ‘immediate, durable humanitarian truce’
A resolution brought forth by Jordan earlier this week passed on Friday, with 120 of the U.N.’s 193 member states voting in favor of an “immediate, durable and sustainable humanitarian truce” in Gaza, and for aid to enter the Palestinian territory unhindered.
Fourteen countries, including Israel and the U.S., voted against the resolution, while another 45 abstained.
The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates welcomed the move.
“As the Israeli assault against the Palestinian people reaches a new peak of brutality, including a complete communications blackout, there is a solid international position rejecting Israel’s unhinged aggression and its clear disregard for international humanitarian law and the lives of Palestinian civilians,” it said in a statement on Friday. “This vote signals the commitment of a moral majority of the international community to uphold its obligations and the rejection of double standards and politicization of international humanitarian law.”
Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen meanwhile denounced what he called a “despicable call for a ceasefire.”
“Israel intends to eliminate Hamas just as the world dealt with the Nazis and ISIS,” he wrote on Twitter.
The U.N. General Assembly, which brings together all member states, cannot issue any binding resolutions. The smaller Security Council, led by major world powers, holds more power, but has failed to pass any resolutions regarding the war amid competing Russian and U.S. vetoes.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has been slammed by Israeli officials for expressing concern for Gaza civilians, reiterated his calls for a humanitarian ceasefire.
“Misery is growing by the minute. Without a fundamental change, the people of Gaza will face an unprecedented avalanche of human suffering. Everyone must assume their responsibilities. This is a moment of truth. History is judging us all,” he said on Friday.
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) have all issued statements condemning the catastrophic situation in Gaza.
“The people of Gaza feel shunned, alienated, and abandoned,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said on Friday, adding that 53 UNRWA employees had been killed in the last three weeks.
West Bank and beyond: one dead, countless armed clashes, widespread protests
Israeli military and settler violence have continued unabated in the occupied West Bank, as Palestinians have reacted in outrage against the latest massacre in Gaza with demonstrations and armed confrontations taking place across the occupied territory.
An Israeli settler reportedly shot and killed 40-year-old Bilal Muhammad Saleh in the town of al-Sawiyeh near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Palestinian resistance groups have reported various armed confrontations across the West Bank, including exchanges of fire with the Israeli military or the launching of improvised explosive devices at checkpoints and military bases in the areas of Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Jericho, Bethlehem, al-Aroub, Abu Dis, and Azzun.
Palestinian news agency WAFA has also reported settler attacks on Palestinian olive harvesters, villagers, and cars near Nablus, Hebron, and Jerusalem since Friday. During the same time frame, Israeli forces have also demolished a home in Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah, shot and injured at least five Palestinians in Qalqiliya, shot and injured a young Palestinian in Deir Abu Mishaal near Ramallah, and shot and injured a 14-year-old in al-Bireh.
Demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza also took place on Friday night in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarem, and Tubas, amongst others.
Israeli forces detained at least 25 Palestinians overnight across the occupied West Bank, bringing the total number of people detained in the West Bank alone to 1,555 since October 7, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. The number of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel is believed to have more than doubled in the past three weeks.
Further north, the Israeli army said that it had fired at southern Lebanon after intercepting a surface-to-air missile fired from the country towards an Israeli drone. Lebanese media reported that residents of southern Lebanon saw an explosion in the sky without being able to identify its cause. Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee has claimed that an Israeli strike hit a Hezbollah structure on Friday night. Exchange of fire was still ongoing on Saturday afternoon, with Hezbollah claiming several strikes.
Israel plans legislation to revoke citizenship over ‘support to terror’
With all eyes turned towards Gaza, the Israeli government is pushing its crackdown on Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian rights group Adalah warned.
Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel are reportedly pushing for legislation to be advanced to facilitate the revocation of citizenship and residency from people who are alleged to support terrorism, incite terrorism, or identify with terrorist acts.
The proposed legislation is a thinly veiled attack against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who constitute 20 percent of the population and are already deemed second-class citizens amid widespread discrimination.
Adalah reported that at least 126 criminal investigations have been initiated within Israel for alleged speech-related offenses since October 7, while another bill has been introduced calling for the criminalization of “consumption of terrorist materials.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet is reportedly seeking to pass a law allowing Israeli police officers to shoot at protesters “obstructing roads or town entrances.”
“Since Israel launched its retaliatory attack on Gaza, the Israeli authorities have carried out an unprecedented number of arrests based primarily on social media posts,” Adalah said. “Many of these accusations leveled against the arrestees fall far short of the threshold for being considered criminal offenses; some are based on nothing more than expressions of dissent against Israel’s military actions in Gaza or expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian victims.”
“It is now becoming evident that these arrests are part of a large-scale campaign to deter any form of criticism of Israeli military actions, and to quash expressions of Palestinian collective identity. The ministers’ reported statement indicates a clear intention to cynically exploit the current state of national emergency to send a message to Palestinian citizens that their status and rights are conditional upon their rejection of their own national identity, and that they face the threat of expulsion from their ancestral homeland.”
International reactions: ‘This bloodbath must stop’
The latest deadly developments in Palestine have sparked shock and outrage abroad, with calls for a ceasefire becoming more desperate amid condemnation of world powers’ blind support of Israel.
“Every Palestinian killed last night could still be alive today if the international community, including the British government, had been pushing for an immediate ceasefire,” the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom wrote. “Instead, it’s continued to fuel Israel’s war crimes with political and material support. Make no mistake, the British government is complicit in the worst of what Palestinians are facing.”
“People in Gaza have NOWHERE to go, NOWHERE to flee to, to escape the indiscriminate attacks. UN agencies have repeated so time and time again,” Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
“This bloodbath must stop, the indiscriminate bombings that are being carried out from Israel on the civilian population must stop. Today we are denouncing that there is no safe place in Gaza, the population has nowhere to go,” Doctors Without Bordersgeneral coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories David Cantero said on Friday. “This collective punishment imposed on the entire population of Gaza is totally unacceptable.”
In New York City, a demonstration organized by Jewish Voice for Peace filled Grand Central Station, shutting it down. “We’re refusing to allow a genocide to be carried out in our names,” JVP wrote on Twitter. Police forces arrested hundreds of protesters.
Some protests were already planned for Saturday, while others have been called in the past 24 hours in numerous countries. Thousands are gathering across the world in the wake of the latest onslaught in Gaza.
Mondoweiss Palestine Bureau
The Mondoweiss Palestine Bureau are the Mondoweiss staff members based in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
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