Israeli military says troops make first ground raids into Gaza

October 13, 2023

The Israeli military said Friday its infantry and tanks had carried out raids inside the Gaza Strip, marking its first announced shift from an air war to a ground incursion.

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said troops backed by tanks had mounted raids to attack Palestinian rocket crews and seek information on the location of hostages taken by Hamas.

Hamas is holding as many as 150 people hostage in locations across Gaza, according to the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Hamas has threatened to execute a hostage every time an Israeli airstrike hits Gazans in their homes.

The ground incursion by Israel forces came less than a week after Israel officially declared war on Hamas on Sunday following the terrorist organization’s surprise, massive attack on Israel Saturday. 

Earlier Friday civilians were observed fleeing northern Gaza by cars and trucks as well as by foot, following a warning—in the form of air-dropped leaflets—from the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to Gazans to flee within 24 hours ahead of the planned ground operations.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said on Friday said Israel did not consult with the U.S. before warning the 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate.

According to the BBC, the Israeli military said it knew it would take longer than 24 hours to move all civilians from the area, but the IDF blamed Hamas for telling people to ignore the call.

Amid the start of the ground incursion, Reuters reported that mosques in Gaza were broadcasting the message, “Hold on to your homes. Hold on to your land.”

On Thursday a state relief agency in Jordan said the first plane carrying medical aid for Gazans had taken off for Egypt. The medicine and supplies were then to be delivered to medical authorities in southern Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

Rafah is Gaza’s only border crossing with Egypt. On Tuesday, Palestinian officials in Gaza said it had been closed due to Israeli airstrikes. On Friday CNN reported that Egypt remained reluctant to re-open it.

PHOTO: Israeli forces at area surrounding Gaza security fence Thursday, per IDF

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