Tel Aviv [Israel], December 6: The expansion of Israeli military operations into the south of the Gaza Strip has prompted renewed calls for Israel to protect Palestinian civilians as it goes after Hamas.
In a sign of the growing intensity of the fighting, the main telecom company in Gaza said on Monday evening that all phone and internet connections had gone down.
The Israeli military had said on Sunday night it was pushing its ground campaign into "all areas" following the resumption of fighting on Friday after a seven-day pause. "The level of human suffering is intolerable," Mirjana Spoljaric, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said on Monday.
"It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza, and with a military siege in place there is also no adequate humanitarian response currently possible." Two hospitals in the south of Gaza supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) - al-Aqsa Hospital and Nasser Hospital - were barely able to cope with the strain of all the new patients, MSF warned.
In the past 48 hours, 100 fatalities and 400 injured people were brought to the emergency room at al-Aqsa Hospital alone, said MSF's KatrienClaeys. Staunch Israeli allies, UN agencies and aid groups expressed concern about increasing Israeli military strikes on southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had sought shelter under Israeli orders earlier in the conflict.
"I feel like I am running out of ways to describe the horrors hitting children here. I feel like I am almost failing in my ability to convey the endless killing of children here," James Elder, the spokesman for the UN children's agency UNICEF, said in a video message from a hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
He wrote separately on social media: "Despite what has been assured, attacks in the south of Gaza are every bit as vicious as what the north endured."
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Monday said that they attacked 200 "terror infrastructure" targets linked to Hamas overnight, as their offensive aimed at completely erasing the group from Gaza goes on.
Fighting has raged in Gaza for eight weeks, with one seven-day pause to allow for the release of hostages and aid deliveries. Almost 1.9 million people have been displaced across the strip since the war erupted on October 7, reported the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) on Monday. Gaza is home to more than 2.2 million people.
Paltel, the main telecommunications provider for Gaza, said on Monday afternoon that landline, mobile and internet services were knocked out in Gaza City and other northern areas of the strip. Hours later, it said its entire network in Gaza was down.
Paltel blamed damage to key infrastructure incurred during the war.
Later, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus denied that there had been another total breakdown of telecommunications services in the strip, telling CNN that he had been able to watch live broadcasts of Palestinian propaganda on TikTok.
The CNN journalist confronted him with the fact that the US broadcaster had been unable to conduct a planned interview with the International Committee of the Red Cross due to the issues with telecommunications services.
Source: Qatar Tribune