Israel Says It Is ‘Expanding’ Ground Operations in Gaza

Israel Says It Is ‘Expanding’ Ground Operations in Gaza
An explosion on the Israel–Gaza border, amid the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, as seen from the Israeli side, on Oct. 27, 2023. (Reuters TV via Reuters)

A top Israeli spokesman said Friday that the country’s military will expand ground operations in Gaza, coming amid reports of significant bombing occurring in the enclave.

“In addition to the attacks carried out in the last few days, ground forces are expanding their operations tonight,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters during a news briefing. He also confirmed that Israel “intensified attacks” targeting Gaza in the past several hours without elaborating.

It comes about three weeks after Hamas carried out a series of attacks on Israel, killing hundreds of civilians and sparking the largest-ever Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza. Israeli officials have said for weeks that a ground invasion of Gaza would be coming.

On Friday, Mr. Hagari said that Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist group, operates underground complexes under Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, and is used by the group’s leaders to direct attacks against Israel.

“Right now, terrorists move freely in Shifa Hospital and other hospitals in Gaza,” he said, adding that Israel has “concrete evidence” that “hundreds of terrorists flooded into the hospital to hide” after the Oct. 7 attacks. “Hamas wages war from hospitals” in Gaza, he also told journalists, adding that the group is using fuel stored in medical facilities to carry out its operations.

“Hamas terrorists operate inside hospitals precisely because they know the IDF distinguishes between terrorists and civilians. Israel targets terrorists, Hamas targets Israeli civilians and Gazan civilians,” Mr. Hagari added.

Hours before the announcement, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters that his country would launch a long and difficult ground offensive in Gaza soon to destroy Hamas. The offensive, he added, could “take a long time” to dismantle Hamas’ underground network of tunnels.

“We are preparing them, and we will carry them out,” he said, according to The Guardian. “I am determined to deliver victory.”

Palestinian activists have also claimed that cellular, internet, and other communications in Gaza have also been shut off. The Palestine Telecommunications Company, Paltel, told The Associated Press that it suffered “a complete disruption of all communication and internet services” because of bombardments.

Speaking at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Salama Moussa claimed Israel’s recent comments about it operating a base at the hospital are “lies” and said they were “a precursor for striking this facility.”

“I ring the alarm bell. There is imminent danger hovering above the medical facility” and those in it, he said.

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Israeli soldiers practice firing their rifles in a field close to the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Oct. 23, 2023. (Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images)

Frequent explosions from airstrikes lit up the sky over Gaza City after nightfall Friday, when the black-out in internet, cellular and landline services hit. The Red Crescent said it lost all contact with its operations room and medical teams. It said it feared people would no longer be able to contact ambulance services. Other aid groups said they were unable to reach staff on the ground.

“We are deeply concerned about the ability of our teams to continue providing their emergency medical services, especially since this disruption affects the central emergency number ‘101’ and hinders the arrival of ambulance vehicles to the wounded and injured,” the Red Crescent said in a statement.

Other Strikes

The conflict has threatened to ignite a wider war across the region.

In a sign of rising tensions in the region, U.S. warplanes struck targets in eastern Syria that the Pentagon said were linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard after a string of attacks on American forces, and two mysterious objects hit towns in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told ABC News Friday that airstrikes targeted a weapons storage facility and a separate ammunition storage area that were being used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“Well, these strikes were very much done in self-defense. As you know, our forces and facilities had come under a range of attacks, rocket attacks, largely by these proxy groups, but they’re backed by Iran, in Iraq, and in Syria,” Mr. Kirby told ABC.

In the meantime, President Joe Biden issued a warning directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying Iran should not take any action against U.S. forces in the region, Mr. Kirby said Thursday.

The United States has sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to the region in part to deter Iran and its allies from entering the war. Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah has repeatedly traded fire with Israel along the border.

Last week, a U.S. Navy destroyer in the northern Red Sea shot down three cruise missiles and several drones launched toward Israel by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in northern Yemen.

Egypt’s military recently said a drone crashed into a building in the Red Sea town of Taba, on the border with Israel, slightly wounding six people. Also, a “strange object” landed near a power station in the nearby town of Nuweiba, state-run Al-Qahera news said. Footage showed debris and smoke rising from the side of a nearby mountain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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