DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza came under the third total communications outage since the start of the war, while Israel’s military announced late Sunday that it had encircled Gaza City and divided the besieged coastal strip into two.
“Today there is north Gaza and south Gaza,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters, calling it a “significant stage” in Israel’s war against the Hamas militant group ruling the enclave. Israeli media reported that troops are expected to enter Gaza City within 48 hours. Strong explosions were seen in northern Gaza after nightfall.
The “collapse in connectivity” across Gaza, reported by internet access advocacy group NetBlocks.org and confirmed by Palestinian telecom company Paltel, made it even more complicated to convey details of the new stage of the military offensive.
“We have lost communication with the vast majority of the UNRWA team members,” U.N. Palestinian refugee agency spokesperson Juliette Touma told The Associated Press. The first Gaza outage lasted 36 hours and the second one for a few hours.
Earlier Sunday, Israeli warplanes struck two central Gaza refugee camps, killing at least 53 people and wounding dozens, health officials said. Israel said it would press on with its offensive to crush Hamas, despite U.S. appeals for even brief pauses to get aid to desperate civilians.