The Israeli military said Friday its ground forces backed by fighter jets and drones carried out a “targeted raid” in Gaza as it prepares for a land invasion.
Israel has launched blistering air and artillery strikes on Gaza for nearly three weeks after Hamas militants staged the worst-ever attack in Israel’s history.
“During the last day, IDF (Israeli military) ground forces, accompanied by IDF fighter jets and UAVs, conducted an additional targeted raid in the central Gaza Strip,” an army statement said.
“The IDF identified and struck numerous terror targets, including anti-tank missile launch sites, military command and control centres, as well as Hamas terrorists,” it said, saying troops “exited the area at the end of the activity”.
Black-and-white footage released by the military showed a column of armoured vehicles as a thick cloud of dust billowed into the sky after the strikes.
The military conducted a similar ground operation using tanks and infantry the previous night in the northern part of the Palestinian territory.
The latest incursions came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated earlier this week that Israel was “preparing for a ground offensive”.
But Hamas said Israeli troops had also tried to stage an incursion by sea by the southern town of Rafah early on Friday, which it said was thwarted by its armed wing.
“The enemy tried to carry out a large-scale amphibious operation on Rafah’s coast at dawn on Friday, where the attempt was discovered and confronted by fighters,” an Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades statement said.
“The (Israeli) air force intervened and they fled by sea, leaving behind a quantity of weapons.”
Contacted by AFP, the Israeli military said it was checking details of the claim.
On October 7, throngs of Hamas gunmen poured from Gaza into Israel, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 229 more, according to Israeli officials.
In retaliatory Israeli air and artillery strikes, at least 7,028 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including 2,913 children, according to figures released by the Hamas-controlled health ministry.
The fatalities in Gaza are the highest since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory in 2005.