Oct. 26 (UPI) — Israel conducted a limited incursion into Gaza under cover of darkness Thursday with its tanks and infantry striking “numerous terrorist cells,” infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch sites.
Israel Defense Forces said the “targeted’ raid was designed to soften enemy resistance and prepare the battlefield ahead of the main ground invasion and that its forces were safely back on Israeli soil.
“IDF forces under the command of the Givati Brigade tonight carried out a targeted raid using tanks in the territory of the northern Gaza Strip, as part of the preparation of the area for the next stages of combat,” the IDF wrote on X.
“As part of the activity, the forces located and attacked many terrorists, destroyed terrorist infrastructures, anti-tank positions and carried out work to organize the area. The soldiers have since exited the area and returned to Israeli territory.”
The action comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Wednesday a military incursion to destroy Hamas in Gaza was imminent — but did not say when.
“We are preparing for a ground incursion,” he said in a televised address to the nation. “I won’t specify when, how, how many. I also won’t detail the range of considerations, most of which the public is not aware of. And that’s the way it is supposed to be. This is the way, so that we protect our soldiers’ lives.”
However, Netanyahu said the war cabinet and chief of staff had reached a decision on the timing that was unanimous.
He added that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Unity Government partner Minister Benny Gantz, the security cabinet, the chief of staff and heads of the security organizations were “working around the clock” to achieve the main war aims of “eliminating Hamas by destroying its military and governance capabilities and to do everything possible to get our hostages back.”
Netanyahu reiterated calls for civilians living in the northern area of Gaza to move to the south of the strip. His plea came as the death toll in Gaza since Israel began its bombardment Oct. 7 in response Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians continued to mount.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said that as of noon local time Wednesday, 6,546 people had been killed, of which 2,704 were children and 1,584 women, with another 17,439 injured.
Tuesday saw the deadliest single day of the conflict with Palestinian authorities saying 704 people had been killed, the largest number in a 24-hour period since the war began, as Israeli forces pounded hundreds of targets in Gaza.