The Israel Defense Force (IDF) conducted localized raids and sent tanks and foot soldiers into Gaza on Friday in preparation for a potential invasion of the Palestinian enclave. The objective of these raids was to locate and rescue Israelis who had been taken hostage by Hamas militants. The IDF stated that the raids were aimed at eliminating terrorists and their weapons while also making efforts to find missing individuals.
According to IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the raids specifically targeted anti-tank guided missile squads attempting to infiltrate Israeli territory. The initial findings from the forward units indicated the presence of missing Israelis near the border, leading to the decision to send a larger force under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Shimon Putrabani. Once the brigade surrounded the location, the bodies of the missing Israelis were collected and transported back to Israeli territory.
While the IDF forces were prepared for a ground maneuver, the final order for the operation had not yet been given by the government, according to IDF spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht.
As of Friday night, the death toll in Israel had surpassed 1,300 people, with nearly 3,500 individuals injured. Dozens of Israelis and foreigners were also taken hostage, and the IDF had reached out to 120 families of missing individuals for information.
In Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, at least 1,900 Palestinians, including 614 children and 370 women, have been killed over the past week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the counteroffensive in Gaza was just the beginning and vowed to eradicate Hamas. During a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Netanyahu emphasized that there would be difficult days ahead but that Israeli forces would crush the “barbarians” of Hamas. He stated that the enemies of Israel had only just begun to pay the price and hinted at further actions to come without providing specific details.
Netanyahu’s remarks signify a significant escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The ongoing violence and loss of life on both sides have drawn international attention and concern. Efforts for de-escalation and a peaceful resolution are urgently needed to prevent further suffering and tragedy. The international community must play a decisive role in facilitating dialogue and negotiation between the parties involved to achieve a lasting ceasefire and a path towards a just and sustainable peace.