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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.

Images are beginning to trickle out of the Palestinian occupied territory on Saturday as bombardments deprived civilians, journalists and aid agencies left in the dark without 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.

It 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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 

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

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

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

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

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.’

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, which runs an extensive network of shelters and schools for nearly half the 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.

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

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

Palestinians carry food aid from a UN-run supply centre

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

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.’

Palestinians in Gaza have been travelling 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.’

Israel has been criticised for continuing its bombardment amid high civilian casualties.

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said 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.

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.

‘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.



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