CNN’s Nic Robertson reported hearing tank gunfire as well as “unusual, intense and sustained” military activity in the past few hours.
The northern Gaza Strip has been subjected to a series of unprecedented attacks, several media outlets reported this Friday afternoon.
According to a reporter for the Al Jazeera channel, the Palestinian enclave experienced “the worst bombardment by land, sea and air since the beginning of the war,” on October 7, when an increase in clashes was recorded.
CNN’s Nic Robertson reported hearing tank gunfire as well as “unusual, intense and ongoing” military activity in the past few hours.
It comes as Israel hopes to soon launch a long and difficult offensive on Gaza soil to destroy Hamas, the country’s defense minister said Friday, describing a campaign that would require the dismantling of a vast network of tunnels used by militants.
Minister Yoav Gallant spoke to a small group of foreign journalists in Tel Aviv after Israeli forces, backed by fighter jets and drones, carried out the second limited attack on Gaza land in several days, attacking the outskirts of Gaza City.
Gallant said the ground offensive – which follows weeks of airstrikes – “will take a long time” and lead to a long period of lower-intensity fighting as Israel destroys ” pockets of resistance.”
Israel has stated that it intends to crush the Hamas government in Gaza and its ability to threaten Israel.
But it remains unclear how to measure the defeat of Hamas and the end of an invasion. Israel maintains that it does not intend to govern the small territory of 2.3 million Palestinians, but has not clarified who is expected to govern it, although Gallant suggested a long-term insurgency could take place.
Gaza’s Ministry of Health on Thursday published a detailed list of the names and identification numbers of the dead, including more than 3,000 minors and more than 1,500 women. Palestinian militants have fired thousands of rockets into Israel, including one that hit a residential building in Tel Aviv on Friday, injuring four people.
According to the Israeli government, more than 1,400 people were killed in Israel during the Hamas attack on October 7, and at least 229 hostages were taken to Gaza.
The total death toll is more than the combined number of the four previous wars between Israel and Hamas, estimated at nearly 4,000. A ground offensive is expected to cause more casualties on both sides as Israeli and Hamas forces clash in densely populated areas.
Hospitals are scrambling for fuel to run emergency generators that power incubators and other life-saving equipment after Israel cut off all fuel deliveries to Gaza at the start of the war, forcing it to close its -single power plant.
Gallant said Israel believes Hamas will confiscate any fuel that comes in. He added that the armed group uses generators to blast air into hundreds of kilometers of tunnels, which originate from civilian areas.
“To get air, they need oil. For oil, they need us,” he said.
Little is known about Hamas’ secret tunnels and other infrastructure, and it is impossible to independently confirm Gallant’s claims.
“The siege means that food, water and fuel – basic commodities – are used to collectively punish more than 2 million people, including many children and women,” Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, the agency of the UN working with Palestinian refugees.