Israeli troops have entered Gaza City along a key coastal road on the Mediterranean Sea as part of their ongoing conflict with Hamas, according to satellite images analyzed by The Associated Press. The images, taken earlier this week by Planet Labs PBC, show the impact craters from missile strikes and the smoke rising over the northern part of the city. They also reveal the previous positions of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers on one of the three axes of attack used to isolate Gaza City from the rest of the Gaza Strip.
The city has experienced a mass exodus of people following a month of war, triggered by Hamas’ incursion into southern Israel on October 7th. The conflict has so far claimed the lives of over 10,500 people, with two-thirds of the casualties being women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave.
Planet Labs has delayed the release of imagery from Israel and the Palestinian territories due to concerns about potential misuse. However, they continue to provide the data to media and humanitarian organizations. The Israeli military has not yet commented on the satellite images.
Israeli forces have been advancing towards Gaza City from three positions. They have cut across the southern edge of the city up to the Mediterranean Sea, while two other forces have moved in from the north. The clearing operations are expected to take weeks or even months to complete, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
The satellite photos reveal the movement of Israeli tanks and armored vehicles along the coastal road, Ahmed Orabi Street, as well as the destruction in the city, including impact craters and burning buildings. Gathering independent information about the situation remains challenging due to limited access for journalists.
Satellite imagery from commercial companies has become increasingly valuable for reporting on closed-off areas and countries. This new source of information has also been used in previous reporting, such as the revelation of a secretive Israeli nuclear facility undergoing construction.