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Web, cellphone networks collapse in Gaza, threatening to worsen humanitarian disaster

KHAN YOUNIS: Web and phone companies collapsed throughout the Gaza Strip on Thursday for lack of gasoline, the principle Palestinian supplier mentioned, bringing a doubtlessly long-term blackout of communications as Israel signaled its offensive in opposition to Hamas might subsequent goal the south, the place many of the inhabitants has taken refuge.

Israeli troops for a second day searched Shifa Hospital within the north for traces of Hamas. They displayed what they mentioned have been a tunnel entrance and weapons present in a truck contained in the compound. However the army has but to launch proof of a central Hamas command heart that Israel has mentioned is hid beneath the advanced. Hamas and workers on the hospital, Gaza’s largest, deny the allegations.

The army mentioned it discovered the physique of one of many hostages kidnapped by Hamas, 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss, in a constructing adjoining to Shifa, the place it mentioned it additionally discovered assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. It didn’t give the reason for her demise.

The communications breakdown largely cuts off Gaza’s 2.3 million folks from one another and the surface world, worsening the extreme humanitarian disaster in southern Gaza, at the same time as Israeli airstrikes proceed there. The UN’s World Meals Program warned of “the speedy risk of hunger” in Gaza because the meals provide has damaged down underneath Israel’s seal and too little is coming from Egypt.

The battle, now in its sixth week, was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault into southern Israel by which the militants killed over 1,200 folks, principally civilians, and captured some 240 males, girls and youngsters. Weiss, the lady whose physique was discovered Thursday, is the third hostage confirmed lifeless, whereas 4 others have been freed and one rescued.

Israel responded to the assault with a weekslong air marketing campaign and a floor invasion of northern Gaza, vowing to take away Hamas from energy and crush its army capabilities.

Greater than 11,470 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them girls and minors, in accordance with Palestinian well being authorities. One other 2,700 have been reported lacking, believed buried underneath rubble. The official depend doesn’t differentiate between civilian and militant deaths, and Israel says it has killed hundreds of militants.

The battle has infected tensions elsewhere. Within the occupied West Financial institution, Palestinian gunmen opened fireplace at a checkpoint on the principle highway linking Jerusalem to Israeli settlements, killing a soldier and wounding three folks.

The three attackers have been killed, in accordance with police, who mentioned the assailants had assault rifles, handguns and hatchets, and have been making ready an assault in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed duty for the assault.

SOME GUNS, BUT SO FAR NO TUNNELS

A day after storming into Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli troops continued looking out the advanced. Gaza’s Well being Ministry mentioned the troops searched underground ranges of the hospital Thursday and detained technicians who run its tools.

The hospital has not had electrical energy for almost per week, and workers say they’ve been struggling to maintain alive 36 untimely infants and 45 dialysis sufferers with out useful tools.

One dialysis affected person died Thursday, Shifa’s director, Mohamed Abu Selmia, advised Al Jazeera, including that 650 wounded sufferers and 5,000 displaced individuals are within the hospital.

Israel mentioned its troopers introduced medical groups with incubators and different provides, although Shifa workers mentioned incubators have been ineffective with out gasoline. Gaza’s Well being Ministry mentioned 40 sufferers, together with three infants, died earlier than the raid after the emergency generator ran out of gasoline Saturday.

Throughout earlier days of preventing within the close by streets, there was no report of Hamas fighters firing from inside Shifa, and no preventing when Israeli troops entered Wednesday.

Israel faces strain to show its declare that Hamas arrange its principal command heart in and underneath the hospital, which has a number of buildings over an space of a number of metropolis blocks. Up to now, it has primarily proven a number of caches of weapons.

On Thursday, the army launched video of a gap within the hospital courtyard it mentioned was a tunnel entrance. It additionally confirmed a number of assault rifles and RPGs, grenades, ammunition clips and utility vests laid out on a blanket that it mentioned have been present in a pickup truck within the courtyard. The Related Press couldn’t independently confirm the Israeli claims.

In latest weeks, Israel depicted the hospital as the location of a significant Hamas headquarters. It launched satellite tv for pc maps that specified specific buildings as a command heart or as housing underground complexes. It launched a pc animation portraying a subterranean community of passageways and rooms stuffed with weapons and gasoline barrels. The US mentioned it has intelligence to assist Israeli claims.

The allegations are a part of Israel’s broader accusation that Hamas makes use of Palestinians as human shields throughout the Gaza Strip — which Israeli officers say is the rationale for the big numbers of civilian casualties throughout weeks of bombardment.

LOOKING SOUTH

The army says it has largely consolidated its management of the north, although preventing continues there. Protection Minister Yoav Gallant mentioned Wednesday the bottom operation will finally “embrace each the north and south. We are going to strike Hamas wherever it’s.” He didn’t give a time-frame.

Israeli forces dropped leaflets Thursday telling Palestinians in areas east of the southern city of Khan Younis to evacuate. Comparable leaflets have been dropped over northern Gaza for weeks forward of the bottom invasion.

Strikes continued within the south Thursday. Within the metropolis of Deir Al-Balah, a funeral was held for 28 folks killed in an in a single day bomb that leveled a number of buildings.

Most of Gaza’s inhabitants is crowded into southern Gaza, together with lots of of hundreds who heeded Israel’s calls to evacuate to the north to get out of the best way of its floor offensive. Some 1.5 million folks pushed from their properties have packed into UN shelters or homes with different households.

If the assault strikes into the south, it’s not clear the place they might go, as Egypt refuses to permit a mass switch onto its soil. The Israeli army has referred to as on folks to maneuver to a “secure zone” in Mawasi, a city on the Mediterranean coast a number of sq. kilometers (sq. miles) in dimension, the place humanitarian assist could possibly be delivered.

The heads of 18 UN companies and worldwide charities on Thursday rejected the creation of a secure zone, saying that concentrating civilians in a single space whereas hostilities proceed was too harmful. They referred to as for a ceasefire and unimpeded entry of humanitarian assist and gasoline for Gaza’s inhabitants.

Israel has sealed off Gaza for the reason that begin of the battle, permitting solely a trickle of assist from Egypt. It additionally bars supply of gasoline, saying will probably be diverted to Hamas — although it allowed a small quantity this week for UN vans to make use of in delivering assist.

The World Meals Program mentioned the 447 vans which have introduced meals into Gaza from Egypt — out of 1,129 aid vans whole since Oct. 21 — present lower than 7 p.c of the inhabitants’s every day caloric wants. Bread is “scarce or non-existent” after gasoline shortages shut down most bakeries, and meals provide chains have collapsed, it mentioned.

“With winter quick approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters and the shortage of unpolluted water, civilians are dealing with the speedy risk of hunger,” mentioned WFP Govt Director Cindy McCain.

Lack of gasoline additionally introduced down the Web and cellphone community, and it might’t be restarted until Israel permits gasoline, mentioned Palnet, the principle Palestinian telecoms supplier. That raises the potential for a long-term communications blackout, after three earlier shutdowns that Gaza authorities have been in a position to restore.

The earlier blackouts traumatized Palestinians, leaving them unable to name ambulances or attain members of the family to make sure they’re alive. Help employees say the shutdowns wreak havoc on humanitarian operations and hospitals. Some Palestinians handle to maintain up communications utilizing satellite tv for pc telephones or SIM playing cards that attain Israeli or Egyptian networks.

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