Israeli airstrikes against Gaza continue; mass protests in Europe to support Palestinian Cause - Day 22 as it happened

Ahram Online , Saturday 28 Oct 2023

Israel intensified its bombardment of the Gaza Strip on the 22nd day of its war on Gaza; Vodafone Egypt is sending mobile units to the border with Gaza to boost telecommunications in the strip; Israeli leaders vow 'uninterrupted war against Hamas'; mass protests in various European cities in support of the Palestinian Cause.

Smoke and explosions caused by Israeli bombardment are seen on the horizon in northern Gaza, Saturda
Smoke and explosions caused by Israeli bombardment are seen on the horizon in northern Gaza, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. AP

22:45 The chairman of the board of directors of Vodafone Egypt announced Saturday evening that the telecommunications giant has prepared mobile communication units to send to the border between Egypt and Gaza to boost internet and mobile phone networks for the Gaza Strip.

In a statement to Al Sharq News, Hany Mahmoud, the chairman of the board of directors of Vodafone Egypt, noted that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) issued a call stressing the importance of restoring communications and internet services in Gaza in order to save the lives of those wounded in the ongoing conflict in the strip.

The ITU call and the Vodafone initiative come 24 hours after Israel cut off all communication and internet services in the strip, thus isolating 2.3 million Palestinians from the rest of the world.

22:30 Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Bilbao in northern Spain waving Palestinian flags and raising placards denouncing the Israeli war on Gaza with US support in a rally under "Long live the Palestinian resistance. Genocidal Zionism", in support of the Palestinian people.

The protests in Spain come after more than a million Turks rallied in Istanbul earlier today to support the Palestinian Cause.

In London, tens of thousands marched and protested near 10 Downing Street in London.

In Switzerland, thousands protested against the Israeli war on Gaza in Zurich, Lausanne, Bern, and Geneve.

In Paris, defying a French court ban, thousands protested to denounce the Israeli war on Gaza.

In Italy, thousands of people protested to demand that Israel stop bombing Gaza and to support the Palestinian resistance.

Bilbao protest on 28 October - AFP

22:20 As the 22nd day of relentless Israeli airstrikes and bombardment on the Gaza Strip nears end, the death toll among Palestinians in the strip is fast approaching 7,800 with the number of wounded climbing over 20,000.

No humanitarian aid is in sight as Israel ignores all international pleas to allow for the entry of aid to the strip.

22:00 A source told Reuters that in-direct negotiations between Israel and Hamas under Qatari mediation are continuing but at a much slower pace than before.

21:45 Arab Gulf states Saturday warned Israel against further ground operations in the Gaza Strip, with Saudi Arabia denouncing land incursions as "unjustified" and Oman condemning possible "war crimes".

21:30 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres discussed the latest diplomatic efforts to stop the escalation in the Gaza Strip in a phone call on Saturday.

El-Sisi and Guterres discussed joint efforts made by Egypt and international organizations to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip through agreed-upon mechanisms under UN supervision.

Egypt has called on the international community to pressure Israel into allowing humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

21:20 Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said Saturday that the Palestinian group was ready for an "immediate" prisoner swap with Israel.

"We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance," Sinwar said in a statement.

21:00 Speaking after Gallant, Benny Gantz, the former Israeli defense minister and minister-without-portfolio in the current Israeli war, said there will be no "pause" in the Israeli war on Hamas.

"The blood of those terrorists who attacked Israel is a free game for us," Gantz said.

20:55 Israel's Defense Minister said Yoav Gallant said: "We hit Hamas with brute force in a battle that is very different from all previous battles." 

"We have no interest in expanding the war but we are ready on all fronts," said Gallant.

20:50 In a press conference, flanked by his war cabinet ministers, Gantz and Gallant, as the Israeli army continued relentless airstrikes on 2.3 million Palestinians under its all-out blockade for three weeks straight, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: "The war in the Gaza Strip will be difficult and we will not retreat and we will destroy Hamas."

"We will do all that we can to ensure the return of our hostages," Netanyahu.

"Our goals are clear: free the hostages and destroy the capabilities of Hamas."

"The ground invasion could free the hostages," Netanyahu said.

19:20 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for an emergency Arab summit to discuss the Israeli war on Gaza.

18:30 The spokesperson for the Egyptian foreign ministry said in statements to Sky News Arabia that Egypt calls on the international community to pressure Israel on allowing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

18:00 EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday warned of the "desperate situation" in the Gaza Strip and demanded a "pause of hostilities" to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip after Israel's intense overnight bombing.

"Gaza is in complete blackout and isolation while heavy shelling continues. UNRWA warns about the desperate situation of Gaza people without electricity, food, water," he said on social media, stressing that "far too many civilians, including children, have been killed."

"This is against International Humanitarian Law," he said.

"A pause of hostilities is urgently needed to enable humanitarian access," Borrell.

17:55 Thousands, holding up placards and waving Palestinian flags, rallied at the gates of Downing Street after taking part in a 'March For Palestine' to call for a ceasefire in the Israeli war on Gaza.  

17:50 Israel has decided to recall its diplomatic staff from Ankara and re-assess the relations between the two countries after Turkish President Erdogan lashed out against its war on Gaza during a massive rally against the Israeli war on Gaza in Istanbul on Saturday.
"Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey," Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
On Saturday afternoon, President Erdogan told a massive pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul that Israel was an occupier and Hamas was a liberation group, not a terrorist organization.
17:30 Sirens blared in central cities in Israel as rockets were launched from Gaza towards Ashkelon and Tel Aviv
17:20 The Egyptian foreign ministry said Israel is creating hurdles to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
17:00 Amid a complete blackout, Israel continued to launch intense airstrikes against Gaza City, reported Al Arabiya. Earlier, Israel issued a warning to civilians in the city in the north of the Gaza Strip to evacuate, declaring that their area has become a "war zone."
15:30 Hamas said Israel’s overnight ground incursion in Gaza was a failure.

Hamas said in a statement Saturday that its military arm, Al-Qassam Brigades, used anti-tank Kornet rockets and mortar shelling to repel the attack.

Hamas added that its fighters inflicted heavy casualties among Israeli troops.

Meanwhile, Al-Qassam said Israel did not engage seriously in recent negotiations over the release of captives, according to Al Arabiya.

On Friday night, Al-Qassam said its fighters were engaging with Israeli troops in the town of Beit Hanoun in northwestern Gaza and Al-Bureij in central Gaza.

15:00 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk warned on Saturday that there was the potential for thousands more civilians to die as Israel presses a ground operation in Gaza.

"Given how military operations have been conducted until now, in the context of the 56-year-old occupation, I am raising alarm about the possibly catastrophic consequences of large-scale ground operations in Gaza and the potential for thousands more civilians to die," he said.

14:55 Saudi Arabia "condemned and denounced any ground operations carried out by Israel, as this threatens the lives of Palestinian civilians and exposes them to more dangers and inhumane conditions."

14:45 Israel says mortars and anti-tank guided missiles have been launched from southern Lebanon at its military positions, setting off sirens. 

The Israeli army said it responded with tank and artillery fire targeting the sources of the attack.

14:10 Thousands of protesters have taken to UK streets in support of the Palestinians and demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

Police expect 100,000 people to join a demonstration which is currently taking place in London.

Protesters were holding placards and waving Palestinian flags as they walked over Westminster Bridge with the Palace of Westminster, home of the Houses of Parliament behind them during the 'March For Palestine' in London.

And more and more all over London…the people have spoken for 🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸

— Husam Zomlot (@hzomlot) October 28, 2023

13:35 Lebanese state media reports an exchange of fire on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The National News Agency said an Israeli drone fired three missiles on a Hezbollah stronghold in an area relatively far from the border.

The agency added that the drone struck the Safi Mountain in Lebanon’s southern region, where Hezbollah has posted.

13:20 Rocket sirens sound in central Israel, according to Israeli media reports.

Sirens have been heard in the cities of Tel Aviv and Bat Yam, without immediate reports of damage or casualties.

13:12 Elon Musk said Saturday that his company would try to help international aid groups in Gaza communicate with Starlink internet terminals after an intense wave of Israeli airstrikes severed almost all internet and cellular communications in the territory.

“SpaceX will support communication links with internationally recognized aid organizations,” he wrote on X.

It is unlikely there are any Starlink terminals inside Gaza, where the entry of goods faced severe restrictions before Israel imposed a full blockade. Musk said no terminals from Gaza had attempted to communicate with SpaceX satellites.

The network, which helps increasingly high-tech soldiers to operate in areas where other means of communication are down, was also been deployed in Ukraine shortly after the country was invaded by Russia in 2022.

Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza.


— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2023

12:34 The UN agency for digital technology, the International Communication Union (ITU) condemned the communication blackout imposed by Israel in Gaza and called for life-saving access to networks to be restored.

Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected at all times.

12:45 Hamas is trying to locate eight Russian-Israeli dual citizens who were taken hostage during the Palestinian group's attack on Israel to free them on Moscow's request, Russian news agencies reported Saturday.

"From the Russian side, via the foreign ministry, we received a list of citizens that have dual citizenship," senior Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzook was cited as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

"We are looking for those people... It is hard but we are looking. And when we find them, we will let them go."

"We are very attentive to this list and will process it carefully because we consider Russia to be the closest friend," he said.

12:22 Lebanon's Prime Minister said that his government has prepared "an emergency plan to contain the repercussions of what could happen in the south" with Israel.

He added that his country is deploying diplomatic and political contacts and efforts, on both Arab and international levels, to stop the Israeli aggression against southern Lebanon and Gaza.

12:07 Egypt has warned of the unprecedented humanitarian and security risks resulting from the extensive ground attack on the Gaza Strip.

These consequences are expected to result in a significant increase in casualties and injuries, particularly among children, women, and innocent civilians, said a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The international community's inability to curtail these violations and halt the bloodshed in the region is a matter of great concern," the statement read.

"Egypt holds the Israeli government responsible for violating the United Nations General Assembly's resolution issued on Friday."

11:33 The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a poignant call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, citing an unprecedented communication and electrical blackout that has left health workers, patients, and civilians at grave risk.

"Reports of bombardment near the Indonesia and Al Shifa hospitals are gravely concerning. The WHO reiterates that it is impossible to evacuate patients without endangering their lives," the WHO said in a statement.

"Hospitals across Gaza are already operating at maximum capacity due to the injuries sustained in weeks of unrelenting bombardment, and are unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number of patients while sheltering thousands of civilians."

WHO: civilians, patients, and health workers in #Gaza spend night in darkness and fear

During a night of intense bombardment and ground incursions in Gaza, with reports of hostilities still continuing, health workers, patients and civilians have been subject to a total…

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) October 28, 2023

11:30 The Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi emphasized that sending 20 trucks a day into Gaza is insufficient, saying there is a pressing need for a larger amount of aid to address the crisis.

"It is important to exert more effort and pressure to ensure that this aid enters at a scale that matches the demand and needs inside the territory."

He also affirmed that Egypt is actively engaged in a positive role in resolving the issue of releasing prisoners and detainees in the Gaza Strip.

10:45 The families of individuals detained in Gaza by Hamas have issued a warning that they will commence protests unless Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant agree to meet with them on Saturday. They plan to gather at a central square in Tel Aviv for this purpose.

Israel has reported that Palestinian factions have detained 229 Israelis. According to Hamas, 50 of them have died in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

10:30 The Turkish President calls on Israel to put an end to its attacks on the Strip. He called on Israel to “immediately come out of its state of madness and stop its attacks” on the besieged Gaza Strip.

10:10 The Israeli military ground operation is ongoing in Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, and East Bureij, with violent artillery shelling, Al Arabiya correspondent reported.

9:55 Israel announced that its troops entered northern Gaza overnight, with forces still in the field.

A communications blackout in Gaza makes details unclear.

The Israel army released a grainy video showing long columns of tanks on the move, though it remains uncertain if they are on the ground in Gaza.

Additionally, Israel reports the killing of Asem Abu Rakaba, a senior Hamas commander.

9:30 UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly claimed that calls for a ceasefire "aren't going to help the situation."

He reaffirmed the UK's support for Israel and emphasized the importance of adhering to international law.

However, he refrained from acknowledging a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

9:15 Humanitarian and media organizations warn that the continuing communications blackout in Gaza could provide cover for war crimes.

"Widespread phone and internet outages occurred in Gaza on 27 October 2023, amid a concerted Israeli bombardment, almost entirely cutting off the 2.2 million residents from the outside world," HRW said in a statement.

"This information blackout risks providing cover for mass atrocities and contributing to impunity for human rights violations," Deborah Brown, the group's senior technology and human rights researcher, said in the statement.

Amnesty International said it has become difficult now for human rights organizations to document violations and war crimes against civilians in Gaza.

9:10 Terrorist Israeli settler has killed a Palestinian man identified as Bilal Mohammad Saleh, 40, in the town of al-Sawiyeh, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to medical sources.

The Ministry of Health said Saleh was shot in the chest and critically wounded, Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

Seven Palestinians, including one minor, have been detained in an Israeli military raid in the Jalazone refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces also demolished a two-storey house in the camp, north of Ramallah.

The raid involved about 200 Israeli soldiers and a heavily armoured bulldozer that destroyed Baja Nakla’s house.

The occupation army also stormed the Dheisha refugee camp in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.

#BREAKING| Israeli forces break into Al Jalazoun refugee camp in the #WestBank city of #Rammallah and take dozens of citizens as hostages.

— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) October 28, 2023

9:05 Following a harrowing night of relentless Israeli airstrikes, families congregated at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, to mourn the loss of their loved ones. 

Video footage reveals several bodies, including those of children, covered in white shrouds or thick blankets, placed on the ground in the hospital yard.

More than 40 bodies were recovered from under the rubble as a result of the bombing of Al-Shati camp, west of Gaza City.

Footage from Aljazeera TV also shows heavy Israeli bombardment in the vicinity of the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza.

In separate scenes, amidst the rubble left in the aftermath of the airstrikes, people are e sifting through the debris in a search for bodies or any signs of life.

Casualty figures have not yet been announced.

Palestinians inspect the last night destruction caused by the Israeli airstrikes.

The silence of UN and Arab countries is making it more worse.#starlinkforgaza #RiyadhSeason #CeaseFireInGaza #CeasefireNOW #CeasefireNOW #غزة_الآن #cumartesi #ForPalestine

— 𝕄𝕕 𝔾𝕙𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕓 (@md_ghalib_) October 28, 2023

9:00 Israel, facing increasing international criticism and concerns about the war on Gaza, doubles down.

The Israeli Occupation Force reports hitting 150 underground targets in the northern parts of Gaza in one of the most intensive nights of bombing.

Israeli air raids have destroyed hundreds of buildings in the Gaza Strip overnight, the civil defense service in Gaza has said.

“Hundreds of buildings and houses were destroyed and thousands of other homes were damaged,” Mahmud Bassal, a spokesman for the Gaza Civil Defence told AFP, adding that the intense bombardments had “changed the landscape” of northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Jewish Americans, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza have been arrested at Grand Central Station in New York.





— Jewish Voice for Peace NYC (@jvpliveNY) October 28, 2023

9:00 On X (formerly Twitter), Palestinians with international phone SIM cards or Palestinians located outside of Gaza have been sharing desperate messages about the loss of communication with their loved ones in the besieged territory.

One such message, posted by Ahmed Ibraa, reads: "Communication is still lost with our family and loved ones, and we are with them in Gaza."

"My family is separated in the Gaza Strip, between the north and the south, and no one knows anything about the other. Oh God, grant relief," wrote karambko.

I don't know anything about my family for more than 14 hours!

Are they still alive? #Gaza

— Ramy Abdu| رامي عبده (@RamAbdu) October 28, 2023
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