(Left) This image grab from an TV footage shows balls of fire and smoke rising above Gaza City during a Zionist strike on Oct 27, 2023. (Right) People wave Turkish and Palestinian flags as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a rally organized by the AKP party in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza in Istanbul on Oct 28, 2023. – AFP photos
(Left) This image grab from an TV footage shows balls of fire and smoke rising above Gaza City during a Zionist strike on Oct 27, 2023. (Right) People wave Turkish and Palestinian flags as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a rally organized by the AKP party in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza in Istanbul on Oct 28, 2023. – AFP photos
Gaza under air, ground attack • Kuwait, Gulf sound alarm • Erdogan slams West

GAZA: The Zionist entity said on Saturday its war with Hamas had “entered a new phase” as the army relentlessly pounded Gaza three weeks into a conflict sparked by the deadliest attack in the country’s history. The United Nations warned thousands more civilians could die as the Zionist entity escalated ground operations in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory, while the European Union called for hostilities to stop to enable aid deliveries.

Arab Gulf states Saturday warned the Zionist entity against further ground operations in the Gaza Strip, with Kuwait cautioning that “any ground invasion of Gaza... will prove that the (Zionist) occupation is determined to continue committing crimes against the brotherly Palestinian people”. A Kuwaiti foreign ministry statement expressed regret on the “international community’s unprecedented silence”, which, if continues, will threaten international peace and security.

“Kuwait renews its call to the UN Security Council and the international community to take responsibility and provide international protection for the Palestinian people,” the ministry said, expressing Kuwait’s “deep regret” for the continuation of the Zionist entity’s “barbaric aggression on Gaza and continued violations of international and humanitarian laws”.

Saudi Arabia “condemns and denounces any ground operations carried out by (the Zionist entity) due to the threat they pose to the lives of Palestinian civilians”, the kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement. It cautioned against “the danger of continuing to carry out these blatant and unjustified violations of international law against the brotherly Palestinian people”, warning of “serious repercussions for the stability of the region”.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said on X, formerly Twitter, that a “(Zionist) ground escalation would have dire consequences for civilians and devastating humanitarian and economic impacts.” Oman on Saturday accused the Zionist entity of committing “war crimes” in Gaza and warned against any further ground maneuvers.

The escalation in the Zionist entity’s “brutal war on the Gaza Strip constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said a foreign ministry statement carried by the official Oman News Agency.

Oman too warned of the destabilizing effects of a large-scale land invasion, while Qatar said “a ground escalation” would risk “the safety of civilians and hostages in Gaza”.

A Qatari foreign ministry statement expressed “complete rejection of the indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip and the attempts to forcibly displace its people”. Qatar’s top diplomat said “mediation efforts to release civilian hostages” and to “end the war” were ongoing. The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council condemned the military escalation in Gaza as a “violation of international law,” urging an immediate end to hostilities.

Addressing a rally of several hundred thousand Palestinian supporters in Istanbul on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “the main culprit behind the massacre unfolding in Gaza is the West”. Erdogan earlier said “(The Zionist entity) must immediately stop this madness and end its attacks” in a post on X. UN chief Antonio Guterres said he regretted the “unprecedented escalation” of the Zionist entity’s bombardment of Gaza and demanded an “immediate” ceasefire.

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The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza said Zionist strikes had killed 7,703 people, mainly civilians, with more than 3,500 of them children. UN human rights chief Volker Turk warned of “the possibly catastrophic consequences of large-scale ground operations in Gaza”, saying “thousands more civilians” could die. The intense Zionist strikes against Hamas, the Islamist group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, coincided with ground operations and came as tens of thousands of troops massed along the Gaza border ahead of an expected full-blown invasion.

Zionist forces also made limited ground incursions on Wednesday and Thursday. “We’ve entered a new phase in the war,” Zionist Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a video on Saturday. Zionist fighter jets dropped leaflets over Gaza City Saturday warning residents that the area was now a “battlefield”. “Shelters in northern Gaza and Gaza governorate are not safe,” the army said, urging residents to “evacuate immediately” to the south. The army already delivered similar warnings earlier in its campaign, but many who fled south ended up returning to their homes after failing to find refuge from Zionist bombing.

Gaza Civil Defense spokesman Mahmud Bassal told AFP “hundreds of buildings and houses were completely destroyed and thousands of other homes were damaged” in the overnight strikes. Amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Al-Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, Alaa Mahdi likened the Zionist entity’s bombardment to an “earthquake”. “If it were a natural earthquake, it would have been much easier than what happened last night,” he told AFP. “What happened last night was more like a horror movie,” Gaza City resident Jihad Mahdi told AFP. “People in the streets have become lifeless bodies walking.”

Hamas’ armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said it targeted Zionist forces in an area of northern Gaza near the border on Saturday. Zionist warplanes flew overhead as booms were heard coming from Gaza, AFP journalists reported. The families of Zionist captives held by Hamas demanded on Saturday an immediate government explanation about their fate after the army’s intensified strikes. On Thursday, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said “almost 50” captives had been killed in Zionist bombings since Oct 7.

Hamas said all Internet connections and communications across Gaza had been cut. AFP journalists in Gaza confirmed they were only able to communicate in limited areas where they could connect to Zionist networks across the border. The Palestinian Red Crescent said the outage had disrupted ambulance services. The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Lynne Hastings, said on X, formerly Twitter, that “hospitals & humanitarian operations can’t continue without communications”.

Billionaire Elon Musk on Saturday said that his Starlink satellite service would support Internet access for “internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza,” which have faced a telecommunications blackout since Friday. Starlink is a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that can provide internet to remote locations, or areas that have had normal communications infrastructure disabled.

Musk, who owns Starlink operator SpaceX, was responding to a post by US Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in which she called the communications blackout in Gaza “unacceptable”. “Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognised aid organizations in Gaza,” Musk wrote on X, formerly Twitter, which he also owns.

Between the bombardments and the fuel shortages, 12 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals have been forced to close. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said it has had to “significantly reduce its operations”. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanded a “pause of hostilities” to allow aid into Gaza, after the UN General Assembly called for an “immediate humanitarian truce”. Violence has also risen sharply in the occupied West Bank since the Oct 7 attacks, with more than 100 Palestinians killed and nearly 2,000 wounded, according to the UN. – Agencies

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