As the Israeli army announced an expansion of operations Friday evening, Palestinian news outlets and an internet watchdog noted a complete "collapse of connectivity" in communications within Gaza.
Rina Bassist, Ezgi Akin, Beatrice Farhat, Elizabeth Hagedorn, Adam Lucente, Jack Dutton, Jared Szuba and Al-Monitor’s contributors on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel contributed to this blog.
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Live updates (all times EDT):
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023
11:23 pm: Ahead of ground invasion, Israeli army expands operations in Gaza Strip
The IDF has been expanding its operations inside the Gaza Strip territory since Friday evening, said IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, noting that the troops on the ground continued west during Saturday, targeting cells of anti-tank launchers and a booby-trapped building. Early Sunday, Hagari warned Gazans that “Hamas terrorists operate inside and under civilian buildings, precisely because they know the IDF distinguishes between terrorists and civilians,” and add that humanitarian aid overseen by Egypt and the United States will be expanded.
10:24 pm: Netanyahu says Israel fighting second war of independence
At his first press conference since Oct. 7, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night that Israel was fighting a second war of independence. He also said that "additional ground forces entered Gaza, marking the beginning of the second stage of the war, whose goal is to destroy the military and political capabilities of Hamas and to bring our kidnapped citizens back." In a post published on X later in the night, Netanyahu said he had not received warnings from either IDF intelligence or the Shin Bet about a possible Hamas attack.
6:00 pm: Trump threatens to deport pro-Palestinian protesters
Former US President Donald Trump threatened on Saturday to deport pro-Palestinian protestors if he wins the election in 2024. Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition's Las Vegas gathering, Trump claimed those protesting are sympathizers of Hamas — designated a terrorist group by the United States — and "pro-jihadist.”
“All the resident aliens that joined in the pro-jihadist protests this month … Come 2025, we will find you and deport you,” the Republican frontrunner said.
Pro-Palestinian marches have taken place in several American cities since the war started on Oct. 7, including some on Saturday in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Chicago.
1:00 pm: Protests in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Zurich in solidarity with Palestinians
Big rallies are taking place on Saturday in London, Rome and Zurich in solidarity with the Palestinians. Police estimated around 100,000 demonstrators gathered in the British capital, Sky News reported. In France, where the government banned pro-Palestinian protests this month, thousands of demonstrators came out in Paris on Saturday for a banned march in "support of the Palestinian people," AFP reported. An administrative court upheld the ban Saturday, citing a "serious risk of disturbing public order" amid "heightened tensions linked to the events in the Gaza Strip with a rise in antisemitic acts in France."
There was a 135-euro ($143) fine for taking part in the demonstration. By the evening, police said they had made 21 arrests and issued more than 1,350 fines.
11:00 am: Hundreds of thousands rally in Turkey in support of Palestinians
Hundreds of thousands rallied in Istanbul on Saturday in support of the Palestinians, in the biggest such demonstration since the war began. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the gathering while accusing Israel of committing war crimes.
“Israel has been openly committing war crimes for 22 days, but the Western leaders cannot even call on Israel for a cease-fire, let alone react to it,” Erdogan told the crowd.
8:00 am: Elon Musk says Starlink will provide limited connectivity to Gaza
Starlink will provide internet connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza, Tesla chief Elon Musk said on Saturday.
Musk was responding to congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who called the blackout on Gaza unacceptable and an action that should be denounced by the United States.
"Cutting off all communication to a population of 2.2 million is unacceptable. Journalists, medical professionals, humanitarian efforts, and innocents are all endangered, I do not know how such an act can be defended. The United States has historically denounced this practice,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.
Responding to the congresswoman, Musk said, "Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza."
7:30 am: Israel strikes south Lebanon after intercepting surface-to-air missile
Israel's military said it struck a target in south Lebanon on Saturday after it had stopped a surface-to-air missile fired from Lebanon at one of its drones. The Lebanese authorities issued precautionary guidance in case it has to evacuate Beirut's airport as border tensions rise.