Ground battles rage in Gaza following Israel’s bombing escalation

Fighting broke out on Saturday in Gaza as the Israeli army says that it has increased ground operations following a three-week period of heightened shelling of Palestinian territory, which was the deadliest strike in the nation’s history.

The United Nations warned of a looming “unprecedented avalanche of human suffering” inside the Gaza Strip, after weeks of relentless Israeli bombing, while the General Assembly called for an “immediate humanitarian truce”.

“We are confronting an Israeli ground incursion in Beit Hanoun (in the northern Gaza Strip) and east Bureij (in the centre) and violent engagements are taking place on the ground,” Hamas’s armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said.

Israeli military spokesman Major Nir Dinar told newsmen, “Our troops are operating inside Gaza.”

Israel launched its bombardment of Gaza after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking nearly 230 others hostage, according to Israeli officials.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Friday that Israeli strikes had now killed 7,326 people, more than 3,000 of them children.

With tens of thousands of troops massed along the Gaza border ahead of an expected full-blown invasion, Israeli forces had also made limited ground incursions on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

“The ground forces are extending the ground operations tonight,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari said late Friday. The Israeli army said it had increased its strikes “in a very significant way”, while the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said on Telegram it responded with “salvos of rockets”.

In overnight raids, Israeli fighter jets hit 150 “terror tunnels, underground combat spaces and additional underground infrastructure” and “several Hamas terrorists were killed”, the army said on Saturday morning.

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