Israeli ground forces made raids into Gaza over the past 24 hours, the military said Friday, ahead of an expected ground offensive on the densely populated Palestinian territory.
“Over the past 24 hours, IDF (Israeli military) forces carried out localised raids inside the territory of the Gaza Strip to complete the effort to cleanse the area of terrorists and weaponry,” an army statement said.
“During these operations, there was also an effort to locate missing persons.”
The raids came amid incessant Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, with Palestinian militants firing back with rockets.
War erupted between the two sides on Saturday, when Hamas militants attacked communities in Israel and killed more than 1,300 people, most of them civilians.
The militants also abducted an estimated 150 Israelis and foreigners.
The Israeli army said troops “collected evidence that would assist in the effort to locate hostages” during the raids into Gaza, without providing further details.
“Soldiers thwarted terrorist cells and infrastructure located in the area, including a Hamas cell that fired anti-tank missiles toward Israeli territory,” the statement added.
Retaliatory strikes on Gaza have killed around 1,800 people and caused mass displacement.
Israel on Friday warned the 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to flee, ahead of an anticipated ground offensive, a move condemned by the United Nations.