Smoke rises and billows in Gaza as Israeli attacks continue on October 27. Anadolu via Getty Images
israel-hamas war

Gaza braced for invasion amid warning of 'catastrophe of epic proportions'

Hamas has accused Israel of trying “to perpetrate massacres with bloody retaliatory strikes from the air, land and sea”.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 27th 2023, 10:50 PM

HAMAS HAS SAID it is “ready” for an invasion after the Israeli army tonight said it will extend “ground operations” in the Gaza strip after significantly intensifying air strikes on Palestinian territory. 

A top Hamas official, Ezzat al-Rishaq posted on Telegram, saying: ”If (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu decides to enter Gaza tonight, the resistance is ready,”

“The remains of his soldiers will be swallowed up by the land of Gaza,” al-Rishaq added.

Hamas has said that its troops are battling with Israeli forces inside of the Gaza strip tonight. 

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

There was no immediate confirmation from the Israeli military that ground forces had again entered Gaza, following two nights that saw limited incursions.

The White House has once again called for a humanitarian pause in the conflict to allow for aid to be delivered to Palestinian citizens who are suffering. 

palestinians-inspect-the-rubble-of-a-destroyed-building-after-an-israeli-airstrike-in-deir-al-balah-gaza-strip-friday-oct-27-2023-ap-photoali-mahmoud Palestinians inspect the rubble of a destroyed building after an Israeli airstrike in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 27 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

“We would support humanitarian pauses for stuff getting in, as well as for people getting out,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“That includes pushing for fuel to get in and for the restoration of electrical power,” he said, adding that they were critical for medical care, water purification and “so many other needs”.

The UN Assembly has also passed a resolution calling for an “immediate humanitarian truce” in Gaza. 

‘Humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions’

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tonight warned that an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip would spell “catastrophe” for the Palestinian territory. 

“The outcome will be a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions for years to come”, Safadi said on X, formerly Twitter, from New York where he was attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Israel has slammed the UN resolution, calling it an “infamy”. 

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has welcomed the resolution calling for a humanitarian truce. 

“We demand its immediate application to allow the entry of fuel and humanitarian aid for civilians,” said a Hamas statement.

The rival Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry said that as Israel’s campaign “reaches a new peak of brutality”, there was “a solid international position rejecting Israel’s unhinged aggression”.

The Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that ireland supported the resolution. 

“I will continue to work for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire, the protection of civilians and regional de-escalation. Millions of civilians deserve nothing less,” Martin said.

Communications lost

ActionAid Ireland CEO, Karol Balfe, has said that communication has been cut-off with her colleagues in Gaza.

“Tonight, we have lost all contact with our colleagues in Gaza. We are gravely concerned for their safety and that of all the people of Gaza as signs grow of a major land escalation following almost three weeks of bombardment.

“We urgently call for the restoration of communication channels, as this is not only a matter of principle but also one of practical necessity. The blackout isolates the population, making it nearly impossible for them to seek help, share their stories, or maintain contact with loved ones,” she said. 

Doctors without Borders has also lost contact with colleagues in Gaza, and is calling for the immediate protection of all medical facilities, staff and civilians across the Gaza strip. 

Israeli Army 

Tonight the Israeli Army said it will extend “ground operations” in the Gaza Strip. 

“Following the series of strikes of the last days, the ground forces are extending the ground operation tonight,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters. The announcement followed two straight nights of tank incursions into Gaza.

Israeli forces pounded the northern Gaza Strip on Friday as UN chief Antonio Guterres warned of an “avalanche of human suffering” in the battered Palestinian territory.

The Israeli military said it had increased its strikes on Gaza “in a very significant way”, as AFP live footage captured intense bombardment of the territory’s north.

The armed wing of the Islamist group Hamas that runs Gaza said it responded with “salvos” of rockets aimed at Israel.

Hamas said all internet connections and communications across Gaza had been cut, and accused Israel of taking the measure “to perpetrate massacres with bloody retaliatory strikes from the air, land and sea”.

“We will continue to strike in Gaza City and around,” Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised address.

Israel has heavily bombarded Gaza since Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping over 220 others, according to Israeli officials.

- Additional reporting by Eimer McAuley.

© AFP 2023