Israel ‘expanding’ operations in Gaza – IDF

Lazy eyes listen

According to Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, Israeli ground forces will “expand” their activity in Gaza on Friday night. Warplanes are currently bombarding the enclave with some of the most intense shelling to date in preparation for the ground attack.

“The air force is striking underground targets very significantly,” Hagari stated during a press conference on Friday evening, adding that ground forces will “expand” their assaults into Gaza later that night.

Over the last two days, Israeli soldiers have undertaken many minor raids into the Gaza Strip, but no major offensive has been announced. Hagari’s speech is the clearest indication since the crisis began on October 7 that an invasion – which the IDF has been planning for nearly three years – is imminent.

In a statement on Friday morning, the IDF said that its tanks and infantry had moved into central Gaza the previous day and destroyed “dozens of terrorist targets, including positions for launching anti-tank missiles and operational headquarters,” as well as Hamas fighters. Israeli forces withdrew after the raid with no casualties, the IDF added. 

A video posted to X (formerly Twitter) by the IDF showed helicopter gunships destroying buildings as troops and tanks fired their weapons below.

Hamas claimed that its militants engaged the Israelis with gunfire and anti-tank missiles, forcing them to flee back to Israeli territory. 

For several weeks, Hagari and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant have warned that the IDF is preparing to invade Gaza, with Gallant warning on Sunday that “there will be no Hamas” left after the assault. However, the Israeli government has not given the order to invade, and media sources say that the US is urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to postpone the operation so that Qatari-mediated talks to liberate some of the approximately 200 captives held by Hamas can take place.

The New York Times reported on Monday that American officials are “also concerned… that the Israel Defence Forces do not yet have a clear military pathway to achieve…Netanyahu’s goal of eradicating Hamas.”