In run-up to ground offensive, IDF enters Gaza with tanks

Oct 26, 2023 8:53 pm | Ticker, Virtual Jerusalem

In a focused overnight operation, the IDF initiated a precise ground operation within the northern region of the Gaza Strip. This maneuver saw the advance of infantry and armored contingents, penetrating up to a kilometer into the territory, as confirmed by military sources on Thursday morning.

The operation, described as a “targeted raid,” precedes a more comprehensive ground assault, marking the most considerable military ground activity since the recent hostilities began. It forms part of a broader strategy aimed at neutralizing the Hamas organization, which governs the Strip, ahead of a more extensive invasion that Israeli authorities have indicated is imminent.

The IDF detailed that the incursion, executed by forces including the Givati infantry brigade and the 162nd Armored Division, focused on key strategic aims. These objectives included the neutralization of multiple Hamas operatives, the demolition of critical infrastructure, and the disabling of positions used for launching anti-tank guided missiles. The operation’s success was pivotal in readying the combat zone for subsequent phases of the broader military campaign.

Following the successful completion of the objectives, the IDF confirmed the safe return of all troops to Israeli territory. Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, speaking on behalf of the IDF, emphasized that the mission was accomplished without any Israeli casualties and within a strict operational range from the border. The operation effectively dealt with imminent threats by eliminating combatants, deactivating explosives, and thwarting potential ambushes, all intended to secure a tactical advantage for future ground operations.

The entry represents a significant escalation compared to the routine operations conducted by the IDF in response to the events of October 7. Previous actions have typically involved smaller units conducting localized raids primarily aimed at recovery operations and neutralizing remnant threats near the border.

In anticipation of an expanded ground campaign, the IDF has intensified its aerial assaults, hitting over 250 Hamas-linked targets. These include command hubs, underground facilities, and rocket launch installations. Naval units also engaged a critical anti-aircraft missile site located perilously close to civilian structures in Khan Younis.

The ongoing conflict has seen extensive bombardment by the IDF, with over 10,000 targets hit in efforts to undermine Hamas and allied factions. However, information released by authorities within Gaza, which remains unverified, suggests high civilian casualties, including numerous children. Israel maintains its stance, attributing a portion of these fatalities to internal misfires within terror groups, particularly an incident resulting in significant loss of life at a hospital.

The looming ground invasion poses a grim prospect, with expectations of increased casualties on both sides. The complex urban landscape, compounded by a network of tunnels, explosives, and fortifications, presents a hazardous environment for the advancing Israeli forces.

Despite a brief lull, hostilities resumed with rocket attacks targeting regions adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The vicinity, largely cleared of civilians, now serves as a staging ground for thousands of Israeli troops preparing for the order to launch the comprehensive ground offensive.