Israeli ground forces of the Givati Brigade conducted their first limited ground incursion into Gaza overnight, withdrawing from the area several hours later, the IDF said in a statement on what Israel’s Army Radio described as the biggest incursion of the current war.
Video of the overnight action issued by the military showed armored vehicles proceeding through a sandy border zone. A bulldozer is seen leveling part of a raised bank, tanks are firing shells, and explosions are seen near or amid a row of damaged buildings. IDF spokesperson R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari said that there were no casualties to Israeli forces in the raid.
The IDF described this as “a targeted raid using tanks in the northern Gaza Strip, as part of preparations for the next stages of combat. The activity was commanded by the Givati Brigade. During the activity, soldiers located and struck numerous terrorists, terror infrastructure, and anti-tank missile launch posts, and operated to prepare the battlefield.”
In preparation for the next stages of combat, the IDF operated in northern Gaza. IDF tanks & infantry struck numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts. The soldiers have since exited the area and returned to Israeli territory.
At the same time, Israel struck 250 Hamas targets overnight, when most airstrikes take place. This is in addition to the 720 targets struck in the first days of the week, bringing the total airstrikes this week to around 1,000. In the first week of the war, Israel also carried out thousands of strikes using around 6,000 munitions, according to earlier reports.
The overall number of strikes, rocket interceptions, and rocket fire from Gaza has not been updated for this war, unlike many previous wars in Gaza. For instance, in 2014 around 4,700 rockets and munitions were fired by terrorists from Gaza in 50 days. In 2023, terrorists also fired around 4,300 rockets in ten days.
The IDF also struck Hamas from the sea near the Khan Yunis area. Hamas has positioned its launching sites near a mosque and kindergarten, according to reports. “Hamas continues to position the residents of the Gaza Strip as a human shield and prevents passage to the south of the Strip,” the IDF noted, which was confirmed by the 504 Intelligence Unit.
Hagari updated the number of people known to be kidnapped and held in Gaza to 224 people. Even though four women have been released, the number verified as kidnapped grows as Israel continues to identify missing people and tries to identify those killed on October 7.
The raid overnight was carried out to gain information and prepare for the next stage. It is not usual in major ground operations to launch raids of this sort; in general, militaries prefer to take the initiative and remain on the initiative. However, in the fight against terrorists, these types of maneuvers may be used when an adversary is contained and blockaded, as Hamas is in Gaza.
For instance, during the battle for Mosul, the Iraqi forces used raids against ISIS. During the Second Lebanon War, the IDF also used raids to take villages and then withdraw. The raid overnight took out anti-tank positions and enabled the IDF to do engineering work before leaving.
The rocket fire was reduced from Gaza overnight and there was a 12-hour period where no rockets were fired. However, the IDF Home Front encourages Israelis not to be complacent and to take seriously the guidelines. This comes as schools in Jerusalem have opened and people are trying to return to normal activity after almost three weeks of war.
The IDF continues to purchase equipment at an unprecedented scale, according to an article in Yediot Aharonot. This is due to the concerns over a multi-front war. It appears that the 300,000 reservists called up may remain for months. This means a major shift to a war economy.
Israel is also receiving Iron Dome batteries and interceptors from the US. These include the two batteries that were sold to the US Army several years ago. Interceptors are made in the US via a joint venture between Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and RTX (formerly Raytheon).
On the home front, there are several developments. Members of Kibbutz Kfar Aza held an event on Kaplan Street near the Kirya in support of the hostages. At the same time, the Hotel Association condemned one of its members for not opening several hotels in Jerusalem to evacuees. Across Israel, hotels and guest houses have been hosting the 120,000 people evacuated from the area around Gaza and the northern border.
In addition, opposition leader Yair Lapid said, according to Walla, that the government is not present in terms of supporting both people who were evacuated and the survivors of the massacre. The government does appear to be scrambling to find financial support for local authorities and all the victims of October 7. This includes millions of shekels for communities in the South and North.
At the same time as Israel prepares a ground operation, there is growing international pressure regarding humanitarian issues in Gaza. Israel also responded to criticism from Turkey. Ankara does not view Hamas as a terrorist organization, even though Turkey itself claims to be fighting “terrorists” in Syria.
The Iranian Foreign Minister also arrived in New York, and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, slammed Israel and the US for “stoking the fire of war.” The IRGC, which has backed Hamas, warned Israel not to invade Gaza. Hamas claims that more than 7,000 people have been killed in the coastal enclave since Israel launched airstrikes in the wake of the Hamas massacre of 1,400 people on October 7.