Israel preparing for massive ground incursion into Gaza with early raids: Report
New York: Israeli troops and tanks launched hours-long ground raid into northern Gaza striking several Hamas and other militant targets ahead of the widely expected ground invasion after continuous bombardment by aerial strikes failed to flush out the kidnappers and their hostages from their underground cellars, the media reported.
The Israel ground raid came amid the UN warning that Gaza was on the verge of running out of fuel forcing it to restrict relief efforts in the territory, which is under a complete siege, since Hamas’ bloody rampage across southern Israel ignited the war earlier this month on October 7, threatening to expand across the Gulf region, TIME magazine reported.
As the death toll in Gaza rose to 7,000, still counting, its unprecedented in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
More loss of lives is anticipated if Israel launches an expected ground offensive aimed at crushing Hamas, Palestinian officials feared. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007 and survived four previous wars with Israel.
The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Wednesday that more than 750 people were killed over the past 24 hours, higher than the 704 killed the previous day. Lines blur on how many civilians were killed and how many military personnel or militants, agencies were quoted by TIME as saying.
Wednesday saw the tragic demise of the wife, son, daughter and grandson of Wael Dahdouh, a veteran Al-Jazeera correspondent in Gaza. The Qatar-based network showed footage of his grief upon entering a hospital and seeing his dead son.
Dahdouh and other mourners attended the funerals on Thursday wearing the blue flak jackets used by reporters in the Palestinian territories.
The Israeli military accuses Hamas of operating among civilians in densely-populated Gaza. And that it hits only Hamas targets indicating civilian casualties could be collateral damage as Palestinian militants fire rocket barrages into Israel from civilian bases such as school, colleges and mosques using civilians as human shields.
Israel’s on the vengeance streak since the bloody attack on its soil on October 7 vowing the crush of Hamas in Gaza.
Israel has made it clear it has no intention of reoccupying the Gaza territory it once left with soldiers and settlers in 2005.
“That could prove a daunting challenge, since Hamas is deeply rooted in Palestinian society, with political and charity organizations as well as a formidable armed wing,” TIME said .
During the overnight raid, soldiers killed fighters and destroyed militant infrastructure and anti-tank missile launching positions, the military said. It said that no Israelis were wounded. There was no immediate confirmation of any Palestinian casualties.
Israeli Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a military spokesman, said the limited incursion was “part of our preparations for the next stages of the war”.
Already, four hostages have been released by Hamas at Qatar’s intervention. Qatar is also conducting delegate negotiations with Hamas for further release of hostages.
Israel also said it had carried out around 250 airstrikes across Gaza in the last 24 hours, targeting tunnel shafts, rocket launchers and other militant infrastructure. The Gaza Health Ministry claims more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war — a figure that includes the disputed figure from an Hospital with rival claims of Hamas accusing Israel of aerial strike and Israel showing footage of a misfired rocket from a car park outside the hospital.
In the three-week long war, this figure released by the Palestinian Health authorities is three times more than the number of Palestinians killed in the six-week-long Gaza war in 2014.
The ministry’s toll includes more than 2,700 minors and more than 1,500 women. The fighting has killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack, according to the Israeli government. Hamas also holds at least 224 hostages in Gaza.
Israel has allowed 60 trucks with aid to enter from Egypt’s border Rafah, which aid workers find is insufficient compared to what was being brought in before the war broke out.
Israel has banned fuel supply into Gaza depriving hospitals that’s running on generators fearing it would not reach the intended beneficiaries but were seized by the Hamas for running their war machinery.