Israel commenced their long-anticipated ground incursion into the northern half of Gaza over the weekend in a bid to eradicate Hamas.
Before members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) entered the Gaza Strip, the Jewish state temporarily disabled internet and communication services throughout the Strip October 28.
They isolated some 2.3 million residents from communicating with each other and the global community to limit Hamas operatives from conveying intel to allies within Gaza and in neighbouring countries.
Hours after dusk, the skyline over Gaza was ablaze with the flashes of ongoing aerial bombardments.
In one incident, ground troops directed the Air Force to carry out a drone strike on a Hamas staging ground, killing more than 20 terrorists, according to the IDF.
Paltel, the primary telecommunications company in Palestine, confirmed the relentless air strikes led to a total blackout of internet, mobile, and fixed-line connectivity.
It prevented Hamas from having immediate access to data regarding the casualties or specifics of the terrestrial invasions. Though, some satellite phones managed to work amid the chaos.
The information blackout came under direct fire from the U.S. government, where one official told the Washington Post they had pressured Israel to restore communications in the Gaza Strip.
"We made it clear that it had to be turned back on," they told the Washington Post, with communications restored at the time.
"They need to stay back on," said the official.
Though communications in Gaza had been largely restored after temporary blackouts Saturday night to facilitate the movement of Israeli troops into the Strip, reports from Palestinian media claimed further blackouts late Sunday.
Israel has yet to comment on the matter.
However, the blackouts coincide with the IDF’s declaration of broadening its terrestrial campaigns within the region to maim Hamas.
Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said ground forces were "expanding their activity" Friday evening in Gaza and "acting with great force [...] to achieve the objectives of the war."
The Israeli government asserts that its military strikes are aimed at Hamas combatants and their facilities that are positioned within civilian communities, effectively using non-combatants as human shields.
A spokesperson for the government said it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates, while seeking to minimize civilian casualties.
Over the past day and change, it has carried out strikes against some 600 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, including weapons storage sites, hideouts, and staging grounds.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel expects a long and difficult ground offensive into Gaza, stating that it "will take a long time" to dismantle Hamas' vast network of tunnels, adding that he expects lengthy periods of lower-intensity combat as Israel destroys "pockets of resistance."
The IDF repeatedly told over one million civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate to the south two weeks before the boots on the ground declaration.
However, the Times of Israel reported evidence that Hamas prevents civilians from evacuating the war zone. They reportedly set up roadblocks and forced people to turn back.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said Saturday that more than 8,000 people had been killed in the war, many of them children. The figures issued by the terror group have yet to be independently verified.
Days after some 2,500 Hamas terrorists slaughtered over 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals October 7, the Israeli government imposed a total blockade on food, water, medicine, and fuel into Gaza, but later allowed humanitarian aid convoys amid mounting pressure from foreign governments and nonprofits.
Amid the fighting, an increase in aid continued to enter into Gaza across the Egyptian border.
The UN confirmed 33 trucks carrying water, food and medical supplies had gone into Gaza on Sunday through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
In addition, Hamas and allied terrorist factions also dragged at least 239 hostages — including some 30 children — back to the Gaza Strip, where they remain captive, reported AP News.
Family members outside Gaza panicked when their ongoing conversations with relatives inside abruptly ended, and their phone calls ceased to connect.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Saturday with the families of hostages, who are being held captive until an exchange for Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli prisons can be arranged.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said they are working to bring home the hundreds of hostages, calling it "a top priority."
Hagari added that additional forces entered Gaza over the past 24 hours, as the IDF expands its ground operation.
Hamas also said it had engaged in "heavy fighting […] with the invading occupation force" in northern Gaza.
"Overnight, troops eliminated dozens of terrorists who barricaded themselves in the buildings and tried to attack the forces that were moving in their direction," said Hagari, with the fighting on the ground ongoing.
"We are carrying out an expanded ground operation into the Strip […] forces are moving towards the terrorists, the terrorists are barricading themselves in staging grounds, and we are attacking them from the air."