Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have pushed deeper into the Gaza Strip as part of an offensive against Hamas militants, according to satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press. The images, taken on Saturday, show Israeli forces positioned just south of the marina in Gaza City, with over three dozen vehicles on the beach. These findings align with reports from AP and analysis by the Institute for the Study of War.
The Israeli forces have created a forward operating base near the marina and have also established defensive positions to the north. Impact craters from missile fire can be seen around these positions, some of which have filled with seawater. The Israeli military has not yet commented on the satellite photos.
Plumes of smoke can be seen from various sites around Gaza City, including near Shifa Hospital, where thousands of people are seeking shelter. Israel has accused the hospital of aiding Hamas militant tunnels and command centers, but both Hamas and hospital staff deny these allegations. Despite limited supplies, Shifa Hospital continues to perform surgeries on war-wounded patients, including children.
Under international law, hospitals are granted special protections during times of war. However, these protections can be revoked if combatants use the facilities to hide fighters or store weapons.
The conflict began with Hamas’ incursion into southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,200 people. In response, Israel launched a campaign of airstrikes and a military offensive into the Gaza Strip. According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, over 11,000 people have been killed in the ongoing fighting, with two-thirds of the casualties being women and children.
Israeli soldiers have approached Gaza City from three positions, cutting across the southern edge and moving northwards towards the Mediterranean. Journalists are currently unable to enter the city, making it challenging to gather independent information. However, satellite imagery from commercial companies, such as Planet Labs, has become a valuable tool for reporting on restricted areas. The AP has access to this imagery and utilizes it to support its reporting worldwide.