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Israeli air and ground forces amplified their military activities against Hamas in Gaza on Friday as international calls for a humanitarian truce grew.
A spokesman for Israel's military confirmed that the intensity of attacks on targets such as tunnels and infrastructure in Gaza had increased, as the possibility of a full-scale ground invasion looms.
Communication lines within Gaza have been severely affected, with telecoms firms and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reporting disruptions in internet and mobile phone services, making it difficult to co-ordinate rescue and humanitarian efforts.
Continuous bombardment by Israel has led to an unprecedented breakdown in communications, hampering both medical and rescue operations on the ground.
International aid groups have voiced concerns over the growing humanitarian crisis due to the aerial bombardment and the potential ground invasion.
Meanwhile, the armed wing of Hamas said late on Friday that its fighters were battling Israeli forces inside Gaza.
“We are confronting an Israeli ground incursion in Beit Hanoun [in the northern Gaza Strip] and in east Bureij [in the centre] and violent engagements are taking place on the ground,” the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades said in a statement.
The UN General Assembly on Friday strongly supported a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce.
The resolution was drafted by 22 Arab nations and its passage marked the UN's first response to the October 7 Hamas assault on Israel.
Despite being non-binding, the resolution, which had 120 votes in favour, reflected growing global support for an immediate cessation of hostilities, provision of humanitarian aid and protection of civilians.
The US, while not commenting on the specific expansion of Israel's ground operations, reiterated its support for the country's right to self-defence.
However, it also expressed support for a pause in military activities to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid and essential services to civilians in Gaza.
The conflict has also stirred regional tension, with the US sending additional military assets to the Middle East amid concerns the conflict could ignite wider hostilities involving other regional actors such as Iran and Hezbollah.
Israel's military has informed international news organisations including Reuters and Agence France-Presse that it cannot ensure the safety of journalists operating in the Gaza Strip.
Continuing military operations create a high-risk environment, complicating journalists' efforts to cover the unfolding events.
“The [Israeli army] is targeting all Hamas military activity throughout Gaza,” the letter sent to Reuters and AFP said. It added that Hamas deliberately sets up military operations “in the vicinity of journalists and civilians”.
The Israeli military also noted that its high-intensity strikes on Hamas targets could cause damage to surrounding buildings and that militants' rockets could also misfire and kill people inside Gaza.
“Under these circumstances, we cannot guarantee your employees' safety, and strongly urge you to take all necessary measures for their safety,” the letter concluded.
UNRWA warns of imminent humanitarian collapse
The UN Relief and Works Agency, which focuses on aiding Palestinians, has issued a stark warning: Gaza's aid operations are “crumbling”, with essential supplies expected to last a mere two more days.
Philippe Lazzarini, the agency's commissioner general, emphasised the acute suffering and hunger among the besieged area's population, stating that current aid barely meets the bare necessities and referring to supplies as “crumbs”.
Mr Lazzarini urgently called for a “meaningful and uninterrupted” flow of humanitarian aid, cautioning that many more will die unless significant intervention occurs soon.
He also confirmed the death of 57 UNRWA workers, highlighting the dire conditions that humanitarian agencies are grappling with in Gaza.