The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sent tanks and foot soldiers into Gaza on Friday to conduct what it called “localized raids” ahead of a likely invasion of the Palestinian enclave, in an effort to locate some of the people taken hostage by Hamas militants.
IDF forces carried out several raids into Gaza in order to “cleanse the area of terrorists and weapons” while making “an effort… to locate missing people,” according to the IDF account on X (formerly Twitter).
“Infantry and armored forces searched and gathered in the area for findings that may help in the effort to locate the missing and thwarted terrorist infrastructure and terrorist cells found in the area,” the Israeli military stated.
IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari also said the raids targeted “anti-tank guided missile squads that intended to infiltrate into Israeli territory.”
The forward units reported “discoveries” of missing Israelis near the border, prompting a decision to send in a larger force under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Shimon Putrabani, according to the Jerusalem Post. After the brigade surrounded the location, bodies were collected from and transported to Israeli territory, the newspaper reported.
The IDF forces were “preparing for a ground maneuver,” but the government had yet to give the final order for the operation, spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht said on Thursday.
The death toll in Israel stood at over 1,300 people, with nearly 3,500 injured as of Friday night, according to Israeli officials. Dozens of Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage, with the IDF saying it had contacted 120 families of those missing.
In Gaza, at least 1,900 Palestinians, including 614 children and 370 women, have been killed in Gaza over the past week, according to the latest figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that the counteroffensive in Gaza was “just the beginning” as he vowed to “eradicate” Hamas. In a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Netanyahu declared that “there will be many difficult days ahead,” but that Israeli forces will “crush” the “barbarians” of Hamas.
“I would like to emphasize: this is just the beginning. Our enemies have only started paying the price,” Netanyahu said, adding he “will not detail now what is yet to come, but I would like to tell you this is just the beginning.”
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