Israel expands ground operation in Gaza as ceasefire talks stall - Day 21 as it happened

Ahram Online , Friday 27 Oct 2023

The UNRWA continued to sound the alarm that 2.3 million Palestinians in the under-bombardment Gaza Strip are facing an impending humanitarian disaster as Israel continues its airstrikes and blockade against the strip for the 21st day.

Explosions caused by Israeli airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023.  AP
Explosions caused by Israeli airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. AP


00:15 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has welcomed the United Nations General Assembly's approval of a resolution, put forth by the Arab states, which calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

23:55 The US State Department urges its citizens to leave Lebanon due to "the unpredictable security situation".

23:35 The Qassam Brigades says they have "foiled an Israeli ground incursion into Beit Hanoun and the east of Bureij". There are reports of "violent clashes" currently taking place.

22:55 The Committee to Protect Journalists says the past three weeks have been the deadliest on record for journalists covering conflict since the organization started tracking in 1992.

The organization said in a statement Friday that at least 29 journalists have died covering the Israel-Hamas war since it ignited Oct. 7, including 24 Palestinians, four Israelis and 1 Lebanese. Additionally, 8 other journalists were reported injured and 9 were reported missing or detained.

22:40 US and Israeli officials tell ABC News that tonight’s ground incursion in Gaza is not a large-scale offensive.

An unnamed American source tells the network the operation is a limited one. And Israel army spokesman Peter Lerner says the current action is not the major operation that is expected, as reported by the Times of Israel.

22:30 The International Committee of the Red Cross, and the World Health Organization, say they have lost touch with a wide array of people and organizations in Gaza, including its staff, health facilities, medical workers and other humanitarian employees.

22:15 Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas armed wing, says they are confronting the Israeli ground incursion in Beit Hanoun, northeast edge of the Gaza Strip, and east of Bureij, with intense clashes on the ground.

22:00 UN General Assembly approves resolution calling for a `humanitarian truce' in Gaza leading to a halt in the war on Gaza.

21:45 The White House said that Israel should support humanitarian pause if it allows for captives release.

“We believe if a pause could be effective to allow for the departure, the release of the hostages, then that is something that we would absolutely support and we believe Israel should support it. The US has been having an active conversation with Israel about that”, John Kirby, the White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, said.

Kirby also said the White House would “support humanitarian pauses for stuff getting in” and “that includes pushing for fuel to get in and for the restoration of electrical power”.

Kirby also declined to say if Biden had been briefed on an expected full-scale ground incursion by Israel troops into the territory.”

21:20 Egypt's army spokesperson says that investigations into the two drones that crashed in Taba and Nuweiba on Friday revealed that they were coming from the south of the Red Sea to the north.

21:00 Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi: Israel has begun a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the result will be a humanitarian disaster

20:30 Due to the communications blackout in Gaza, thousands of Arab X users are urging Elon Musk to provide "Starlink" internet access using “#StarlinkforGaza” much like the situation in Ukraine where kits were sent to them. 

The campaign attracted many celebs above them famous former Egyptian footballer Mohamed Abutrika who is followed by more than five million people alone. His tweet asking Elon Musk telling him that “it was a humanitarian duty” gained over 17,000 retweets in one hour only. 

Meanwhile, another group of Egyptian social media users has launched another campaign to encourage Egyptian mobile network operators with access and presence in Egyptian Rafah to expand their network into Gaza, particularly in its southern region. 

However, technicians also point out that this may prove challenging, as it requires the establishment of infrastructure in Southern Gaza, which has been hampered by the destruction of cables in the area by Israeli forces, as reported by locals.

20:15 US officials told CNN negotiations to have captives released would not stop, despite a near-communication black out in Gaza and a renewed Israeli assault.

Still, one official acknowledged that the talks had “seemed closer to moving forward than they do now”, according to CNN.

Sill the officials said “there’s no scenario until they’re freed that we would stop pursuing talks”.

20:00 "Enough is enough," Egypt's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Osama Abdel Khalek, told an emergency UN General Assembly session, calling for an end to the suffering endured by Palestinian people in Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli war.

19:55 The Palestinian telecom provider Paltel says internet service in Gaza Strip has been cut off by Israeli bombardment. Services were cut Friday evening, following a heavy round of Israeli airstrikes that lit up the night sky over the darkened territory.

Rights groups and journalists also say they lost contact with colleagues in the enclave. The Associated Press's attempts to contact people in Gaza did not go through.

19:20 The Israeli military said its ground forces were “expanding their activity” in the Gaza Strip, as the army moved closer to a full-on ground invasion of the besieged territory.

18:50 At a press conference, the director of Al-Shifaa Medical Complex, Mohamed Abu Selmiya, passionately rejected all Israeli claims and circulated videos claiming that Hamas fighters are using a basement floor in the complex as a command center for military purposes.

"The complex's emergency quarter cannot be a command center for Hamas," Abu Selmiya said.

"The International Red Cross has commissioned and oversaw the construction of the emergency center and possesses all the building's blueprint and floor plans."

"Threatening Al-Shifaa is threatening all the people of Gaza because the complex serves all the residents of the strip," Abu Selmiya added.

Holding images of the floor plan of the emergency quarters of the complex, Maarouf invited all reporters to a tour of the basement floor of the complex.

Reporters, who accompanied Al-Shifaa staff on the tour, captured live footage of patients undergoing X-rays in a radiology unit as well as patients receiving kidney dialysis in a urology unit. 

18:25 In a defiant message at an impromptu press conference, Salama Maarouf, the head of the Media Office for the government in Gaza, rejected what he described as the Israeli blatant and outrageous lies that claim that resistance fighters are using Palestinian hospitals in the strip as launching points for attacks against Israel.

"These Israeli lies are a pretext to attack Palestinian hospitals in the strip," Maarouf said.

"All Israeli reports and videos on the use of our hospitals as hiding places for fighters or fuel depots or launching pads for attacks are complete fabrication," he charged.

"Al-Shifaa Medical Complex is treating hundreds of people wounded in Israeli strikes and is sheltering tens of thousands of civilians who are seeking refuge from Israeli bombardment and massacres everywhere in Gaza."

"We have never expected that the criminal imagination of the occupation would reach the levels of threatening to  Al-Shifaa Medical Complex by claiming it is being used for military purposes," added an impassioned Maarouf.

18:05 Israeli army says its fighter jets are carrying out intensive and unprecedented airstrikes on the whole of the Gaza Strip. 

The entire communications network in the Gaza Strip has been cut off in tandem with the recent Israeli wave of airstrikes on the strip on Friday evening.

17:45 U.S. fighter jets launched airstrikes early Friday on two locations in eastern Syria linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Pentagon said, in retaliation for a slew of drone and missile attacks against U.S. bases and personnel in the region that began early last week.

17:15  Al-Qahera News has reported that a Qatari-Egyptian mediation to release Israelis captured by Hamas on 7 October is underway

There is also progress toward reaching an agreement for a humanitarian truce, the Egyptian news outlet added.

Israel has proposed a ceasefire in exchange for the release of all those captured by Hamas, according to Al-Qahera News.

Hamas had demanded a ceasefire and the release of its detainees in Israeli jails in exchange for releasing its Israeli captives, according to an earlier report by Al Arabiya.

17:00 The International Committee of the Red Cross says that 10 of its staffers, including a combat surgery team, entered Gaza, along with six trucks of medical aid and water purification tablets.

The medical supplies are enough to treat between 1,000 and 5,000 people, the ICRC said, and the water purification tablets can treat 50,000 liters of water.

This crucial humanitarian assistance is a small dose of relief, but it's not enough,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director. “Our surgical team and medical supplies will help relieve the extreme pressure on Gaza’s doctors and nurses. But safe, sustained humanitarian access is urgently needed.”

16:30 Ezzat Al-Roshk, a senior Hamas official,  said there is no factual basis for the claim made by the spokesperson of the Israeli army that the Al-Ahly Baptist Hospital served as a fuel depot for Hamas.

An Israeli airstrike on the Al-Ahly Baptist Hospital during the second week of its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip killed more than 470 Palestinian civilians and injured hundreds more, who were sheltering in its premises from Israeli bombardment all over the strip.

"This a new lie in the series of lies used in constructing the Israeli narrative," said Al-Roshk.

"These lies represent a pretext to committing a new massacre against our people, which will be greater than the massacre at the Al-Ahly Baptist Hospital, where more than 40,000 citizens are taking refuge," added Al-Roshk.

15:50 The UNRWA has confirmed that 53 of its staff in Gaza have been killed since 7 October.

"These people dedicated their lives to their communities," said the UNRWA in a post on its official X account.

The UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which has provided humanitarian and social services to Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories and elsewhere in refugee camps in Arab countries since the 1948 Nakba.

"One colleague died collecting bread. He leaves behind 6 children," the UNRWA said.

"We are beyond devastated, as this unspeakable suffering continues," it added.

Israeli airstrikes have targeted various UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip, including a number of its schools.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken shelter in UNRWA facilities after leaving their homes amid intense Israeli airstrikes.

The organization has sent multiple pleas for the international community to pressure Israel to end its water, food, and fuel blockade on the strip, warning that it can no longer provide any minimal level of services to the Palestinians in dire need.

15:00 Ten European doctors have entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing, as hospitals and the health sector in the strip struggle to avert an all-out humanitarian disaster amid a brutal Israeli blockade, according to Al Arabiya.

14:50 French President Emmanuel Macron says his country is advocating a humanitarian truce to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza.

In statements at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, Macron warned that "tensions could escalate if the war continues and we may face the risk of the region igniting in fires, which would have adverse consequences," Macron warned.

"We advocate establishing a humanitarian truce in Gaza that responds to the needs of civilians."

The French president, who has defended Israel's "right to defend itself" in the aftermath of the Hamas attack on 7 October, said today that Israel "must act against specific targets in Gaza without endangering civilian lives."

"We are working with Egypt and Jordan to coordinate sending aid to Gaza," he added.

He noted that France wants to evacuate its nationals from Gaza as soon as possible.

14:30 A rocket launched from Gaza struck the city of Yafa in central Israel.

14:20 Israel launched a strike against a Lebanese Army patrol near the Aitaroun village in south Lebanon, according to Al Arabiya.

14:00 The Palestinian health ministry says the death toll among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from three weeks of relentless Israeli airstrikes stands at 7,326.

13:30 A rocket that was launched from Gaza against Tel Aviv on Friday struck a building in the Israeli city, according to Al Arabiya.

Israeli authorities reported three were injured.

Meanwhile, Israel closed Ben Gurion Airport again amid the most recent rocket attacks.

13:00 A Hamas delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouk met with Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, in Moscow.

Tass reported that Kani told Abu Marzouk, who led the Hamas delegation, that Tehran’s priority in negotiations “is an immediate ceasefire, providing assistance to the people and lifting the repressive blockade of Gaza.”

12:50 A senior US official said Thursday the administration has requested that Israel allow the US to get forces in place before Israel launches an expected ground invasion in Gaza, according to ABC News.

The US has also requested that Israel get a better handle on the hostage and humanitarian situation in Gaza, where cases of dysentery from people drinking contaminated water are being reported, the official said.

Additionally, the US told the Israelis that it is still not convinced they have a good plan for what they want to do in Gaza, the official said.

12:40 Al-Qassam Brigades announced repelling an Israeli troop landing attempt on the beaches of Rafah in south Gaza on Friday.

12:30 Israeli tanks and infantry troops backed by fighter jets and drones carried out a second ground raid into the Shijaiyah district on the outskirts of Gaza City in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, in the second such operation in as many days, striking various targets, according to the Israeli army, as Tel Aviv prepares a ground invasion of the under-bombardment strip.

An Israeli Merkava tank is deploy with other armoured vehicles along Israel's border with Gaza on October 24, 2023. AFP 

12:15  Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the UNRWA, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, warned Friday that Gaza is in urgent need of "continuous and impactful" aid, after three weeks of intensive Israeli airstrikes on the strip.

Lazzarini also noted that the remaining public services in besieged Gaza are collapsing fast and that people in the strip gripped by war now face food shortages.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees criticized the international community, saying it "seems to have turned its back on Gaza."

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, the UNRWA chief said the agency was very short on fuel in Gaza and needed about 160,000 litres of fuel a day to supply hospitals and bakeries.

UNRWA staffers in Gaza are saying "their operations are crumbing" and "for the first time ever, they report that now people are hungry," Lazzarini said. "Civil order is collapsing."

Asked how long supplies will last, the UNRWA chief said: "Certainly no more than a few days.”

People distribute food to people at a makeshift camp for displaced people in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 25, 2023. AFP 

Israel strikes Gaza City outskirts in second consecutive ground raid

Israeli forces backed by fighter jets and drones carried out a second ground raid into Gaza in as many days and struck targets on the outskirts of Gaza City, the military said Friday, as it prepares for a widely expected ground invasion of the Palestinian territory.

12:00 ​The Palestinian health ministry said it had received reports that 1,650 people, including 940 children, were missing and are believed to be buried under the rubble of hundreds of homes destroyed by relentless airstrikes.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a house after it was struck by an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. AP 

11:50 Ten humanitarian aid trucks carrying water, food, and medical equipment crossed the Rafah border crossing to the Gaza Strip on Friday, according to Al Qahera News.

Tens of other trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza are still waiting on the Egyptian side of the border crossing to enter Gaza.

Al-Arish Airport in North Sinai has received 51 planes carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israel continues to enforce a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip for the 21st day straight - denying food, water, and fuel - to 2.3 million Palestinians under its bombardment.

Hospitals in Gaza, which are treating thousands of Palestinians wounded in Israeli airstrikes, are running out of fuel to stay operational, according to various reports.

11:40 Israeli occupation forces fired teargas and sound bombs to prevent Palestinian youth from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers.

Al Qahera News reported that Israel has mobilized 5,000 additional troops to crack down on any attempt to reach the Islamic holy site in east Jerusalem.

11:30 The number of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank since the start of Israel's war on Gaza on 7 October has climbed to 109.

Israel has also arrested hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of its war on Gaza.

11:00 The Commissioner-General of the UNRWA, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, warned on Friday that Gaza is in urgent need of "continuous and impactful" aid after about three weeks of intensive Israeli airstrikes on the besieged enclave in response to an unprecedented attack by Hamas. 

On the other hand, Philippe Lazzarini announced during a press conference in Jerusalem that 57 agency staff have been killed in Gaza since the outbreak of the war on 7 October.

10:45 Eyewitnesses told Al Qahera News that Egyptian jet fighters have been flying over Nuweibea and Taba in South Sinai since dawn on Friday morning.

10:20 The spokesperson for the Egyptian Armed Forces said an unidentified drone fell near a hospital in Taba in South Sinai, on the border with Israel, on Friday morning.

The incident resulted in light injuries to six individuals who were treated and released from hospital.

The concerned authorities are conducting an investigation into the incident, added the spokesperson.

10:00 A projectile hit near an electric power plant in Egypt's Nuweibea in South Sinai, 73 kilometres from the border with Israel, on Friday morning, Egyptian sources to Al Qahera News.

9:30 Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that the US military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.

9:10 Riyad Mansour, the Representative of Palestine at the United Nations, said Israel has killed more than 7,000 Palestinian civilians in barbaric and brutal acts since the start of its airstrikes and bombardment campaign on the Gaza Strip on 7 October.

9:00 Israel continued its bombing campaign on various areas in the Gaza Strip for the 21st day straight.

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