The Chief of Staff for the Israel Defense Forces met with his troops in the field, telling them the people of Israel trust them to carry out the forthcoming vital mission to protect the nation.
“Our responsibility now is to enter Gaza, to go to the places where Hamas is preparing, acting, planning, launching,” Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said while visiting soldiers Sunday in southern Israel. “Attack them everywhere, every commander, every operative, destroy infrastructure.
“In one word: win.”
He made his comments as 300,000 Israeli forces massed on the border of the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion. The troops moved into position barely a week after Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern Israel, and killed more than 1,300 people. As of Sunday evening, 289 soldiers and 51 police officers had been confirmed killed.
The IDF said Sunday night it had killed a senior Hamas commander, Muataz Eid, the national security chief for the terror group’s southern district.
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Halevi in his field meeting with soldiers emphasized that it was an honor to carry out the forthcoming mission.
“We’re going to do something big, important, to change the situation for a long, long time… This is a great mission, a great privilege. Do it with excellence,” he added. “The State of Israel, the residents of the south — they all place their trust in you.”
Halevi spoke to his men in the field while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in Tel Aviv to “demolish Hamas” as 300,000 Israeli troops massed on the border of the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion.
The Israeli leader for the first time convened his emergency war Cabinet, including opposition lawmaker Benny Gantz.
“Hamas thought we would be demolished,” Netanyahu said. “It is we who will demolish Hamas.” The show of political unity, he said, “sends a clear message to the nation, the enemy and the world.”
Ministers stood for a moment’s silence in memory of 1,300 Israelis who were killed in Hamas’s shock attack Oct. 7. Israel, in turn, has launched hundreds of airstrikes and missile attacks on Gaza and killed about 1,900 Palestinians.
The Israeli leaders met as the U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken would return to Israel Monday for further discussions after visiting the Jewish state last week. The top U.S. diplomat has made seven stops in Middle Eastern countries in recent days, including Egypt on Sunday, to work with Arab allies to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spiraling out of control.
Israeli officials continued Sunday to warn people living in the northern half of Gaza leave to the southern half of the narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea.
An Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said, “We want people to go south.”
Residents trying to flee told the IDF that Hamas set up roadblocks to stop them from fleeing.
Officials from Hamas did not respond to a request for comment from Soldier of Fortune.
With reporting from VOA.