The Israel Defense Forces announced Friday it is “expanding ground operations” in the Gaza Strip and “operating forcefully” on all fronts to fulfill its goals in the war with Hamas. This comes as Gaza residents describe heavy airstrikes and as a major telecoms company says mobile phone service is completely down.
A substantial ground offensive has been expected ever since the Hamas October 7 attacks, but it is not yet clear whether the IDF announcement signals the start of it. Earlier Friday, Israel’s military conducted “targeted raids” for a second night in northern Gaza, after vowing to continue ground raids over the coming days.
Meanwhile, pressure is building on the international community to persuade Israel to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza. While the initial aid deliveries have provided food, water and medicine, they have not included fuel, which the United Nations said is “paralyzing” its aid operations. Israel says Hamas is stockpiling fuel for its use and has called on the militant Palestinian group that governs Gaza to share it.
Here’s how to help humanitarian efforts in Israel and Gaza.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated “the importance of protecting civilians during the Israel Defense Forces’ operations” in a call Friday with the Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, according to a Pentagon readout.
Austin also emphasized the urgent need for “humanitarian aid delivery for civilians in Gaza” and for Hamas to release all hostages, the Pentagon said.
Austin’s call comes as the Israel Defense Forces announced it is “expanding ground operations” in the Gaza Strip and “operating forcefully” on all fronts to fulfill its goals in the war with Hamas.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told international news organizations that they cannot guarantee the safety of journalists reporting from Gaza, according to a Reuters report published Friday.
International news agencies Reuters and Agence France Presse (AFP) contacted the Israeli military this week for assurance their journalists on the ground in Gaza would not be targeted by Israeli airstrikes.
The IDF responded in a letter to both agencies saying they are “targeting all Hamas military activity throughout Gaza” and “[u]nder these circumstances, [they] cannot guarantee [their] employees’ safety, and strongly urge [them] to take all necessary measures for their safety.”
The letter also said Hamas deliberately put military operations “in the vicinity of journalists and civilians,” Reuters wrote. Hamas did not immediately respond when asked if these allegations put forth by the IDF were true, Reuters said.
Reuters and AFP have both expressed concern over the safety of journalists in Gaza, Reuters stated.
Several United Nations agencies report they have lost contact with their local staff in Gaza, as most of the communication capabilities of the enclave appear to have been interrupted.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X that the organization has lost touch with its staff as well as with its “health facilities, health workers and the rest of our humanitarian partners on the ground.”
Lynn Hastings, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Palestine, also took to X to say that “Gaza has lost contact with the outside world amid reports of intensified bombardment.”
The UN’s Children’s Fund executive director, Catherine Russell, said in a post on X that she is “extremely concerned” about her team in Gaza after losing touch with them.