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Israeli Defense Minister: Preparing to enter Palestinian enclave

2023 Oct 20, 13:21, Tel Aviv [Israel]
Image: ANI

Senior Israeli officials have spoken about the prospect of an imminent large-scale ground offensive of the Gaza Strip to eliminate the terrorist group Hamas on Thursday. Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told soldiers near Gaza that the order to enter the Palestinian enclave would be given "soon," The Times of Israel reported.

"You now see Gaza from afar, soon you will see it from the inside," Gallant told troops of the Givati Brigade. He further said, "The order will come."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also visited the frontlines, rallying a group of Golani soldiers near the Gaza border and telling them Israel was on its way to a major victory.

"We are going to win with all our might," Netanyahu told the group of soldiers. He said, "All of Israel is behind you, and we are going to heavily strike our enemies so that we can achieve victory," according to The Times of Israel report.

The head of the Israeli Defence Forces Southern Command Major General Yaron Finkelman said the expected ground offensive will be "long and intense."

Finkelman told troops near the Gaza border, "This war was forced on us, with a cruel enemy that harmed us greatly. But we stopped them... we are striking them heavily."

He said, "Now, the manoeuvre is going to move the fighting to their territory. We are going to beat them in their territory." He stressed that it is going to be "difficult, long and intense," The Times of Israel reported.

Meanwhile, Israel's Ministry of Defence and the Israeli Defence Forces announced the evacuation of the northern city of Kiryat Shimona's residents to state-subsidized guesthouses. The implementation of the evacuation was approved by Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

Taking to X, Israel's Ministry of Defence stated, "The Ministry of Defense & the IDF announce the evacuation of the northern city of Kiryat Shmona's residents to state-subsidized guesthouses. The implementation of the evacuation program was approved by DM Yoav Gallant. The IDF notified the mayor of Kiryat Shmona a short while ago."

For the past week, Israel has urged all residents of northern Gaza to evacuate to the centre and south of the Gaza Strip as it prepares to intensify operations in the enclave's northern part. Hundreds of thousands of people have relocated from their homes despite Hamas urging them not to leave their homes.

Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, a body that needs to approve a ground incursion met on Thursday, which is another sign the start of the ground offensive may be looming. Notably, the conflict between Israel and Hamas started the latter launched an attack against the former on October 7.

Following the Hamas attack, Israel called up 360,000 reservists and vowed to eliminate Hamas. With tanks and weapons seen near the Gaza border, reports have indicated that the military is awaiting an order from the political leadership, according to The Times of Israel report.

National Unity party chair Benny Gantz and fellow party member Gadi Eisenkot, who entered the coalition last week to form an emergency wartime cabinet, have called for the setting up of a Gaza exit strategy and have asked a committee to devise one, The Times of Israel reported citing an Israeli official's statement last week.

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continued on Thursday, along with intense rocket fire by terrorists towards Israeli cities and towns. On Thursday, rockets were fired towards cities including Holon, Rishon Lezion, Beersheba, Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza border communities. Two rockets landed in Sderot which led to damages.

Three senior officials in Gazan terror groups were killed on Thursday. The IDF said an airstrike in Rafah city of Gaza had killed Rafat Abu Hilal, the head of the military wing of Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees terror group. 


Israel Defence Forces Israel Air Forces Gaza Hamas IDF Gaza Strip Israel Hamas conflict Israel-Hamas war Sderot Benjamin Netanyahu Israel Prime Minister Israel Defence Minister
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