Israeli troops have advanced into Gaza City along a key coastal road as part of their ongoing conflict with Hamas, according to satellite images analyzed by The Associated Press. The images, taken earlier this week, reveal extensive impact craters and rising smoke in the northern part of Gaza City. They also show previous positions of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers, indicating the strategic cutting off of the city from the rest of the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the city due to the month-long war between Israel and Hamas.
The conflict began after Hamas launched an incursion into southern Israel on October 7, resulting in the death of approximately 1,400 people. Israel responded with a campaign of airstrikes and a military offensive into the Gaza Strip, which has so far claimed over 10,500 lives, with two-thirds of the casualties being women and children.
Planet Labs, the source of the satellite images, has delayed the release of imagery from Israel and the Palestinian territories during the war due to concerns about potential misuse. However, they continue to provide data to media and humanitarian organizations. The AP has a subscription and uses the imagery for reporting.
The satellite images show Israeli forces positioned close to the Shati refugee camp, located north of Gaza City’s center. Witnesses in Gaza City have confirmed the accuracy of these images. Footage released by both Hamas and the Israeli military correspond to the features seen in the satellite images.
Israeli soldiers have approached Gaza City from multiple directions, with forces cutting across the southern edge of the city to the Mediterranean Sea, while others advance from the north. These clearing operations typically take weeks or months to complete.
The satellite photos also reveal the presence of Israeli tanks and armored vehicles moving along a coastal road, as well as the destruction of buildings and impact craters caused by Israeli fire. Access to independent information about the situation inside Gaza City is challenging due to restricted access for journalists. Satellite imagery has become increasingly valuable for reporting in closed-off areas.
Commercial satellite imagery has previously been used to report on Israel, including the revelation of a secretive nuclear facility undergoing significant construction. The availability of high-resolution satellite imagery from commercial companies has expanded over time, making it a valuable tool for gathering information in conflict zones.