Israel advances against Hamas: Satellite photo shows huge cloud of smoke over Gaza

Israel advances against Hamas
Satellite photo shows huge smoke cloud over Gaza

By Laura Streising and Sergey Mayer

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Israel’s military advances against Hamas and communicates its victories to the public. Satellite images show a large plume of smoke in the sky south of Gaza City after one of several airstrikes. What caught fire there?

There is a war going on in Gaza. As less and less information leaks out of the sealed-off area, it’s still clear just how big the path of destruction must be at the site.

On Thursday, November 16, the Sentinel-2 satellite of the European Earth observation program Copernicus captured a dark column of smoke rising vertically into the sky on the outskirts of Gaza City. Various satellite images and publicly available maps of the neighborhood indicated the fire in an industrial building near the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque on the outskirts of Gaza City.

An industrial building burns on the outskirts of Gaza City on November 16, 2023. The Israeli army carried out an airstrike in the area yesterday night.

(Photo: ESA/Sentinel Hub, ntv.de/lst)

The cause of the fire and massive plume of smoke is unclear. However, ntv.de’s research shows that there was at least one airstrike in the immediate vicinity by the Israeli military the previous night.

A video posted by the Israeli Defense Forces on X, previously Twitter, shows a bullet hitting the south side of the industrial building. According to the IDF, the airstrike targeted the residence of Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau. The tweet indicated that the building where the shooting took place was a meeting point for leading members of Hamas.

According to the NTV verification team, the rocket fired in the video may have hit a few hundred meters away from the industrial building on fire in the satellite image. However, it is not clear from the available evidence whether the large fire was directly related to the airstrike that night. It is also unclear whether the rockets were fired into the surrounding area.

However, data from NASA’s Satellite-Based Fire Alarm System (FIRMS, Fire Information for Resource Management System) supports the hypothesis that the fire must have occurred on the morning of the Sentinel-2 image and was detected by NASA satellites.

Refugees cannot feel safe anywhere

According to the Israeli military, Hamas has been increasingly losing ground since the ground offensive began, particularly in the north of the Palestinian territories. Gaza City has been under siege since early November. The armed forces say they are targeting facilities they suspect are Hamas command centers and hideouts such as the Shifa hospital.

Israel’s move has drawn international criticism. Countless civilians are still waiting in contested areas and seeking safety near humanitarian facilities. Even in the south of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians who have already fled live under sometimes disastrous conditions and are at risk of being caught between the lines again.

More recently, a pamphlet campaign in Khan Yunis caused a stir in which the Israeli military urged civilians to seek safety elsewhere. The town is twelve kilometers below the Wadi Gaza, the dividing line originally drawn by Israel between the evacuation zone and the war zone. The new announcements may indicate that Israel plans to advance south of the Gaza Strip as well.

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