Israeli bombardment since morning has claimed the lives of 178 Palestinians and injured another 589, the Gaza Health Ministry said Friday evening. The information regarding the combat situation cannot be immediately verified, in the afternoon the ministry reported 109 dead since the resumption of the Israeli offensive. According to AFP correspondents, many of the injured have gone to overcrowded hospitals, and many people are also going there to donate blood.
In the afternoon, the Israeli army announced that since 07:00 local time (06:00 CET) it had carried out approximately 200 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, several of them in the south in Rafah and Khan Younis. Meanwhile, ground troops destroyed several IEDs, as well as tunnel entrances, rocket launch sites and other Hamas military infrastructure, according to the statement. The Israeli Navy was also involved in Friday’s operations.
In the direction of the southern Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian militants, according to the afternoon statement of the Israeli army, sent about 50 rockets. Warning sirens sounded in central Israel before the second rocket salvo on Friday around 19:00 CET, and Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system was activated over the area; Hamas claimed responsibility for the fire.
The end of the truce after seven days
Israeli army chief of staff Herci Halevi held talks with top military officials on Friday “before the start of the second phase of the war”, the army said. According to The Times of Israel (ToI), the army is expected to expand the ground operation to the south of the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant watched Israeli airstrikes over the Gaza Strip from a helicopter gunship on Friday. After returning to the air base, he said that “Hamas only understands force”, adding that he watched the intense strikes from the cockpit. “We will continue to strike until we achieve the goal of this war: eliminate Hamas, destroy its military capabilities and return the hostages home. We will continue this mission until the successful end and victory over Hamas,” he added.
Israel’s military resumed combat operations in the Gaza Strip this morning, shortly after a seven-day truce between Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement that was linked to hostage exchanges for Palestinian prisoners expired without an extension. Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups from the Gaza Strip have also started firing rockets towards Israeli territory and are apparently fighting Israeli ground forces in the area.
The conflict erupted after a Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, in which Palestinian militants killed 1,200 people and kidnapped more than 200, according to Israeli authorities. According to the AP agency, about 140 people abducted by Palestinian militants remain in the Gaza Strip. More than 100 hostages have been released so far. According to Palestinian authorities, at least 15,000 people have lost their lives in the Gaza Strip during Israeli bombing and ground operations since the beginning of the war.