Update 10/28 3pm (EDT): Aid groups and media outlets continue to report having little to no contact with their colleagues in Gaza. An Israeli military official announced, “This war has stages and today we are moving to the next stage. Our forces are currently operating on the ground in the Gaza Strip.” A spokesperson for the health ministry in Gaza said Israeli airstrikes had turned the besieged enclave into a “ball of fire.”
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced an expansion of its ground operations into the Gaza Strip. Israeli air strikes on the besieged enclave have knocked out communications for the two million plus Palestinians living there.
It appears Tel Aviv launched its anticipated ground invasion into Gaza on Friday as the Israeli Air Force pounded the region, causing a near communication blackout. “The Air Force is striking underground targets very significantly. Ground forces are expanding the ground activity this evening,” military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a press conference, reported Middle East Eye.
The Jordanian Foreign Minister explained the ground operations would cause a humanitarian catastrophe. “Israel just launched a ground war on Gaza. The outcome will be a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions for years to come. Voting against [the] Arab [UN General Assembly] resolution means approving this senseless war, this senseless killing,” he posted on X. “Millions will be watching every vote. History will judge.”
Jawwal, a Palestinian communications provider, issued a statement on X saying that the bombing had nearly completely disabled cell phone and internet settings in Gaza. “We regret to announce a complete interruption of all communications and Internet services with the Gaza Strip in light of the ongoing aggression,” the company said. “The intense bombing in the last hour caused the destruction of all remaining international routes linking Gaza to the outside world.”
The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported in the Middle East Eye it had lost contact with its aid workers in Gaza. “We have completely lost contact with the operations room in the Gaza Strip and all our teams operating there due to the Israeli authorities cutting off all landline, cellular and internet communications.” The group’s statement continued, “We call on the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli authorities to provide immediate protection to innocent civilians, medical facilities and our teams.”
Al-Jazeera notes it has inconsistent communications with some reporters in the besieged enclave. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports two dozen journalists have been killed by the Israeli bombing campaign.
The IDF invading Gaza risks provoking a wider Middle East war that could draw in the US. Hezbollah has threatened to launch an attack on northern Israel in response to the ground invasion. Shia militias have targeted American soldiers occupying Iraq and Syria in response to the Washington-backed onslaught against the Palestinians.
The invasion comes as the Israeli operation Iron Swords enters its fourth week. Multiple neighborhoods in Gaza have been completely eliminated in Israel’s bombing campaign. Palestinian sources say that at least 7,000 people have been killed in the Israeli operations, including over 2,600 children. Authorities in Gaza say more dead are buried under the rubble.
President Joe Biden says he doubts the death toll is that high. However, Palestinian officials have provided a list of nearly 7,000 victims.