Israeli forces conduct overnight ground raid in Gaza as airstrikes continue

At least 7,000 Palestinians killed, including over 2,900 children in relentless bombing, thousands injured

Reuters/AFP /Anadolu Agency October 27, 2023
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 26, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Israeli army carried out a "targeted raid" on ground in Gaza backed by fighter jets and drones while continuing bombardment, which has claimed over 7,000 Palestinian lives, including at least 2,900 children.

"During the last day, IDF ground forces, accompanied by IDF fighter jets and UAVs, conducted an additional targeted raid in the central Gaza Strip," an Israeli army statement said on Friday as it prepares for a land invasion.

"The IDF identified and struck numerous terror targets, including anti-tank missile launch sites, military command and control centres, as well as Hamas terrorists," it said, saying troops "exited the area at the end of the activity".

Black-and-white footage released by the military showed a column of armoured vehicles as a thick cloud of dust billowed into the sky after the strikes.

The army conducted a similar ground operation using tanks and infantry the previous night in the northern part of the Palestinian territory.

The latest incursions came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated earlier this week that Israel was "preparing for a ground offensive".

Palestinian sources told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces carried out "a very limited incursion" overnight into the outskirts of the town of Beit Hanoon, north of the Gaza Strip, as well as in al-Bureij refugee camp.

Israel said military raids into Gaza were preparing "the next stage of the operation", amid fears that a ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave could spark a wider Middle East conflict.

Palestinian ministry releases names of dead

Israeli air and artillery strikes have killed at least 7,028 Palestinians in the narrow Gaza Strip, including 2,913 children, since October 7, according to a list of names released by the Palestinian health ministry.

The relentless bombing amid a complete seige of Gaza has continued for 21 days as Israel vowed to 'annihilate' Palestinian resistance group Hamas after it launched a surprise offensive claiming the lives of 1,400 Israelis and kidnapping 224 others.

The fatalities in Gaza are the highest there since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory in 2005.

Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been running out of food, water, medicine, and fuel, and aid convoys allowed into the narrow strip of Palestinian territory have carried only a fraction of what is needed.

As the plight of Palestinian civilians grows more desperate, the issue of whether to have humanitarian pauses or ceasefire agreements in the Hamas-run coastal enclave will come before the 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Friday in a draft resolution submitted by Arab states calling for a ceasefire.

Unlike in the Security Council where resolutions on Gaza aid failed this week, no country holds a veto in the General Assembly. Resolutions are non-binding, but carry political weight.

More than 613,000 people were estimated to have been made homeless by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and were being sheltered by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

'Captives killed by Israeli bombardment'

A Russian newspaper Kommersant quoted a Hamas official Abu Hamad calling for a ceasefire before captives can be freed.

Hamas said on Thursday that around 50 of the captives taken in the surprise raid have been killed by Israel's continued airstrikes in Gaza.

The official further said that a calm environment and time is needed for Hamas to locate the captives before they can be released.

Hamas freed four captives over the last week amid efforts by regional mediator countries to arrange a larger-scale release.

Israel has called on Russia to expel the visiting Hamas delegation dubbing their visit to Moscow "deplorable".

Russia has ties to all the key players in the Middle East, including Israel, Iran, Syria, the Palestinian Authority
and Hamas. It has repeatedly blamed the current crisis on a failure of US diplomacy, and called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the resumption of talks aimed at finding a peace

Israelis support for ground invasion dips: poll

Almost half of Israelis want to hold off on any invasion of Gaza, according to a poll published on Friday.

Asked if the military should immediately escalate to a large-scale ground offensive, 29% of Israelis agreed while 49% said "it would be better to wait" and 22% were undecided, the poll published in the Maariv newspaper said.

The daily said the results contrasted with its October 19 poll that found 65% support for a major ground offensive.

Maariv said "it is almost certain that the developments on the matter of the captives, which is now topping the agenda, have had a great impact on this shift (in opinion)".

Fears of war spreading

At least six people were wounded when a missile struck a healthcare facility and residential building in the Egyptian resort town of Taba near the Israeli border early Friday, reported Anadolu Agency.

Local sources said an investigation has been launched.

An unnamed Egyptian official said Egypt reserves the right to respond once it is determined who fired the missile, according to local media.

The Israeli military said it was aware of a security incident around Taba, noting that it unfolded "outside our border," according to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Meanwhile, two US fighter jets struck weapons and ammunition facilities in Syria on Friday in retaliation for attacks on US forces by Iranian-backed militia as concerns grew that the Israel's war in Gaza may spread in the Middle East.

US President Joe Biden ordered strikes on the two facilities used by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and militia groups that it backs, the Pentagon said, warning the US will take additional measures if attacks by Iran's proxies continue.

US and coalition troops have been attacked at least 19 times in Iraq and in Syria by Iran-backed forces in the past week. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Lebanon's Hezbollah are all backed by Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said at the UN on Thursday that if Israel's offensive against Palestinians did not stop, the US will "not be spared from this fire".

The US air strikes took place at roughly 4.30am. on Friday near Abu Kamal, a Syrian town on the border with Iraq, and were carried out by two F-16 fighter jets using precision munitions, a US defence official said.

"These precision self-defence strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

"These Iranian-backed attacks against US forces are unacceptable and must stop," Austin said.

Biden has sent a rare message to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warning Tehran against targeting US personnel in the Middle East, the White House said earlier on Thursday.

"What we want is for Iran to take very specific actions, to direct its militias and proxies to stand down," a senior US defence official said. The US did not coordinate the air strikes with Israel, the official added.

The US has sent warships and fighter aircraft to the region over the last three weeks. On Thursday, the Pentagon said about 900 more US troops have arrived in the Middle East or are heading there to bolster air defences for US personnel.

A day prior, Ismail Haniyeh, the political bureau chief of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, warned about the consequences of the continuation of the Israeli war against Gaza.

The war “will put the entire region out of control,” Haniyeh said in a televised statement aired by Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV.

He said after 20 days of fighting in Gaza, the resistance “is very well”.

Haniyeh affirmed that all resistance groups in Palestine, including Hamas, “are national liberation movements,” when one considers that “terrorism is the occupier, those who support it, and those who remain silent about the massacres”.

"The continuation of the aggression against Gaza will put the entire region out of control. Indeed, today the region has become a hot tin roof, and no one can predict its directions or outcome," he said.

The Hamas chief demanded the opening of all crossings, especially Rafah, to allow access to everything Gaza needs “without restrictions or conditions.”

Haniyeh also urged “everyone, all the free people of the world, and all friendly, brotherly, and allied countries, to exert all the required pressure in all forums and in all directions to stop the aggression against Gaza, and to stop this war against our children, women, elders, mosques, universities, and homes.”

He also urged all presidents, leaders and opinion-makers to affirm, clearly and explicitly, the legitimacy of the resistance in Palestine and the legitimacy of Hamas.




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