THE Hamas government has said Israel "cut communications and most of the internet" across the Gaza Strip on Friday.

The government's media office accused Israel of taking the measure "to perpetrate massacres with bloody retaliatory strikes from the air, land and sea," as heavy strikes hit northern Gaza.

Palestinian telecom provider Paltel said internet service in the Gaza Strip has been cut off by the Israeli bombardment.

Services were cut on Friday evening following a heavy round of Israeli air strikes that lit up the sky over the territory.

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The Palestinian Red Crescent, the main emergency service in Gaza, said it was cut off from its operations room because of the internet blackout.

Journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Gaza confirmed they were only able to communicate in limited areas where they could connect to Israeli networks across the border.

First Minister Humza Yousaf confirmed he was no longer able to make contact with his family, who have been trapped in Gaza for more than three weeks.

Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the UK, also confirmed he had been unable to contact family in Gaza.

This comes as the Israeli military has said its ground forces are “expanding their activity” in the Gaza Strip, as the army moved closer to a full ground invasion of the besieged territory.

Daniel Hagari, the army’s spokesman, said aerial attacks had been targeting Hamas tunnels and other targets.

Hagari said: “In addition to the attacks that we carried out in recent days, ground forces are expanding their activity this evening.

“The IDF is acting with great force… to achieve the objectives of the war.”

In a statement on Twitter/X, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: "Israel is expanding their military campaign against Hamas.

"The UK’s top priority remains the safety of British nationals in Gaza and the region.

"We support Israel’s right to self defence, in line with IHL, and continue to push for the protection of Palestinian civilians."

After three weeks of war sparked by a bloody Hamas incursion into southern Israel, the Palestinian death toll has soared past 7300, according to officials in Gaza.

On Thursday, Gaza’s health ministry released a detailed list of names and identification numbers of those killed, including more than 3000 minors and more than 1500 women.

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More than 1400 people were slain in Israel during Hamas’s October 7 attack, according to the Israeli government, and at least 229 hostages were taken into Gaza.

Palestinian militants have fired thousands of rockets into Israel, including one that hit a residential building in Tel Aviv on Friday, injuring four people.

The overall number of deaths far exceeds the combined toll of all four previous wars between Israel and Hamas, estimated at around 4000.

A ground invasion is expected to cause even higher casualties on both sides as Israeli forces and Hamas battle each other in dense residential areas.

A blockade on Gaza has meant dwindling supplies of food, fuel, water and medicine, and UN and Arab leaders have called for a ceasefire to allow entry of humanitarian aid that is only trickling in.

Hospitals have been scrounging for fuel to run emergency generators that power incubators and other life-saving equipment after Israel cut off all fuel deliveries to Gaza at the start of the war, forcing its only power plant to shut down.

Charity  and aid organisation Medical Aid for Palestinians said on Tuesday that hospitals in Gaza were close to total collapse if fuel did not reach them in the next 48 hours.

It has since been more than 48 hours since the release of this statement.