Telecommunications services in the Gaza Strip have been disrupted, Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel said, as Israel steps up its assault on the besieged territory.

“We regret to announce the complete suspension of communications and internet services with the Gaza Strip, as the main links that were previously reconnected have been severed again,” Paltel said in a statement on Monday.

Cybersecurity watchdog NetBlocks confirmed that the “near-total internet outage” would be “perceived by most residents as a complete loss of communications.”

The announcement came amid heavy airstrikes on Gaza as Israel expanded its assault on the besieged area, which began on October 7 after Gaza-based Hamas militants carried out an attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.

According to Palestinian authorities, the Israeli offensive killed at least 15,899 people and displaced more than 75 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said at least 50 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on two schools housing displaced people in the Daraj district of Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip.

WAFA reported that ambulances had difficulty reaching the attack sites and evacuating victims due to the intensity of the artillery fire.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

The Israeli military called for more evacuations in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday as it expanded its offensive.

Israel ordered Palestinians to leave parts of the capital Khan Younis in southern Gaza, but residents said areas they had been asked to leave also came under fire.

Israeli troops and tanks also stepped up the ground assault in the south of the enclave after largely gaining control of the now-destroyed north. “We are beginning to expand the ground exercise to other parts of the Gaza Strip with one goal – to overthrow the terrorist group Hamas,” Brigadier General Hisham Ibrahim told Army Radio.

The Israeli military posted a map on the social media platform X with about a quarter of Khan Younis marked as an area requiring immediate evacuation. The arrows pointed south and west toward the Mediterranean coast and Rafah, a large city near the Egyptian border.

Reporting from Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum said the area around the facility was under “relentless, incessant bombing and artillery fire.”

“We have never heard such a bombardment near the hospital,” he said.

“The south of the Gaza Strip was also subjected to relentless airstrikes. The fact is that there is no safe place in the Gaza Strip,” Abu Azzoum noted.

The director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Thomas White, said there were no safe places for people trying to flee the bombing.

“People are asking for advice on where to find safety. We have nothing to say to them,” he said on X.

Reuters reported that a bombing at a site in Rafah overnight ripped a crater the size of a basketball court from the earth.

Israel’s closest ally, the United States, has called on it to do more to protect civilians in the southern part of the Gaza Strip than it did in the north last month. Washington said on Monday it was calling on Israel to allow more fuel into the Gaza Strip.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel to “avoid further measures that would worsen the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and to spare the civilian population from further suffering,” U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General reiterates the need for an unimpeded and sustainable flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of people across the Gaza Strip,” Dujarric said. “For people who have to be evacuated, there is no safe place and hardly any possibility of survival.”

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