Destruction, death and chaos continue to prevail in the Gaza Strip, on Friday, as reports of shelling, drone warfare and ground assaults continue to surface from the region. Early Friday morning, as of the time of this report, Israel has launched a massive ground operation in Gaza.
The northern and eastern borders of Israel with Gaza have been declared closed military zones where even journalists are banned, according to the Palestinian News Network.
Clashes in Beit Lahiya, in the north of Gaza, and east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli army have been reported.
Israel is attacking by both air and land, with military airplanes and tanks.
Ongoing attacks east of Rafah have also been reported, with several serious injuries. Some sources report there might already be several casualties.
The army said that the aim of the operation is to protect Israeli lives and crush Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, according to Ma’an News Agency.
Israeli authorities recently declared its military ready to deploy 40,000 reserve soldiers for the purpose of a possible assault on Gaza.
According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the Israeli government has in fact already called up 56,000 troops for the assault.
Yesterday, it called for an additional 18,000 reservists to prepare for the ground operation currently in progress, in the Gaza Strip.
Over 240 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli air strikes since Israel began its offensive on July 8. An NGO based in the Strip reports that 80 percent of the dead are civilians. Many of the victims are children, according to Gaza medics.
Israeli tanks have been shelling El-Wafa hospital, in Gaza, whose 14 patients include some who are paralyzed or in a coma. Several people have been injured, including nurses.
The hospital has come under Israeli fire several times in the past, including the possible use of banned weapons against patients in El-Wafa hospital. Eyewitnesses report the use of white phosphorus by Israeli troops.
A Norwegian doctor working at Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, has determined that some of the injuries that wounded and killed Palestinians are currently experiencing are, in fact, consistent with the use of banned weapons by Israeli forces.
The Israeli military has called on occupants of El-Wafa Hospital to evacuate the facility, though, according to the director of the hospital, it is almost impossible to move the patients. Most are immobile, and the question remains of where exactly to move them.
‘There is no place safe in Gaza! If a hospital is not safe, where is?’ he asked AFP.
Ambulances are all in use, there is heavy shelling occurring in many places.
On Thursday evening, the Israeli air force shot down a drone flying over Ashkelon, near the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel. It is possibly the second Palestinian drone to enter Israeli airspace since the fighting began 10 days ago.
Israel regularly flies drones over Gaza, even during times of relative peace. Palestinian resistance groups have rarely used drones against Israel.
Al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the drone.
Palestinian militants have fired 105 rockets into Israel, mostly in the direction of Eshkol and Ashkelon, according to the military. As Israel prepared its reserve army of 40,000, officials claimed that around seventy homemade shells were fired from the Gaza Strip in the same direction.
These are crude shells constructed of little more than tubes with dynamite placed inside. They are fired blindly, without any possibility of aiming them. Injuries and damages are seldom reported, let alone in contrast with the devastation incurred by Israeli air and ground assaults.
Yesterday afternoon, an Israeli soldier was ‘lightly’ injured by mortar fire from Gaza, following the temporary ceasefire.
A Hamas official recently denied that a lasting ceasefire deal with Israel had been reached, rejecting claims from an Israeli official that they had agreed to end the conflict early Friday, according to Ma’an.
‘The news about a ceasefire is incorrect. There are continuing efforts but no agreement until now,’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP on Thursday.
Related: Egyptian ‘Ceasefire Proposal’ a Scam?
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and continues into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.