Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) – Israeli forces penetrated into Gaza City along a key Mediterranean coastal road as part of their war on Hamas, according to satellite images taken earlier this week and analyzed by The Associated Press on Thursday.
Images taken by Planet Labs PBC on Monday show a satellite view of craters from rocket attacks and billowing smoke over the northern areas of Gaza City, the largest urban area in the blockaded territory. The images also show former positions of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers on one of the three attack axes used to isolate the city from the rest of the Gaza Strip.
The city has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee after a month of war since then Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 incursion into southern Israel Which claimed the lives of about 1,400 people.
The attack led to a punishing campaign of airstrikes and Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip, which has so far killed more than 10,500 people – two-thirds of them women and children, according to The Ministry of Health in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Planet Labs began delaying the release of images from Israel and the Palestinian territories amid the war, acknowledging concerns about the “potential for misuse” of its images, said Will Marshall, co-founder and CEO of SAN. Francisco based company.
“Planet continues to make Earth observation data in Gaza available to clients, including media and humanitarian organizations, consistent with our commitment to transparency and accountability,” Marshall said in response to AP questions before Monday’s images were released. “Planet does not edit images, and we have not received requests to censor images.”
The AP has a subscription to access Planet Labs images to assist in its reporting around the world and to distribute those images to subscribers and members.
Monday’s images show Israeli forces about one kilometer (more than half a mile) north of the Beach refugee camp, a dense neighborhood adjacent to downtown Gaza City. The beach houses Palestinian families Those who fled or were expelled of what is now known as Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation.
Their position corresponds to what Eyewitnesses in Gaza City told the Associated Press, whose correspondents continue to work in the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday, a witness told the AP that he saw Israeli soldiers fighting Hamas near Al-Shifa Hospital, which is about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the site that Israeli forces took control of on Monday.
The footage published by Hamas this week of its fighters engaging in street-to-street fighting with Israeli forces is consistent with the features of the northern areas of the Gaza Strip. Footage released by the Israeli army did the same thing.
The Israeli army refused to comment to The Associated Press about the satellite images and its strategy in the Gaza Strip.
After issuing orders for civilians to leave Gaza City, Israeli soldiers moved towards Gaza City from three locations.
They cross the southern end of the city all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, two other forces advanced from the north, with forces around Beit Hanoun to the east and forces seen in satellite images along the Mediterranean, to the west, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
The institute said, “These disinfection operations often take weeks and sometimes months.”
Satellite images show more than half a dozen Israeli tanks and armored vehicles moving Monday on Ahmed Orabi Street, a coastal road on the Mediterranean Sea that also includes a cluster of hotels and restaurants. A mosque on the side of the street appears in ruins.
The images show about 20 other vehicles just to the north in a location that likely serves as a forward operating base for Israeli forces. A few hundred meters away, more than thirty impact craters can be seen, most likely the result of a heavy barrage of fire fired by Israel earlier to clear the area of its forces.
Burning fires and destroyed buildings can be seen throughout Gaza City.
With journalists outside the city unable to enter, gathering independent information about what is happening remains difficult. Aside from videos and photos posted on social media, the increasing supply of satellite images from commercial companies has become increasingly valuable in reporting on closed areas and countries.
These companies can capture highly detailed images that rival those previously limited to a few countries. Colorado-based companies Airbus and Maxar Technologies provided photos to journalists during the war between Israel and Hamas as well. The two companies did not respond to a request for comment.
Previously, a 1996 US law known as the Kyle-Bingaman Amendment prohibited US companies from publishing high-resolution satellite images of Israel beyond what was commercially available abroad. But as commercial companies launch high-resolution satellites into space, those images are becoming more widely available.
These newly available images have been used in reporting on Israel before. The Associated Press, relying on such images, reported in 2021 that A secret Israeli nuclear facility At the heart of the country’s undeclared nuclear weapons program, the country has been undergoing what appears to be its largest construction project in decades. This work appears to continue to this day.
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