by Susan Katz Keating
One report to the IDF states that Hamas terrorists laid an explosive device on the road inside Gaza.
Hamas operatives set up armed checkpoints to prevent people from leaving the northern Gaza Strip in advance of an expected ground assault from Israel Defense Forces, the IDF said.
“We have called on the people living in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate the area from the north and move south,” IDF spokesman LTC. Peter Lerner said. But, he added, Hamas “tried preventing the move to the south.”
Lerner made his remarks in a Monday briefing conducted from Israel over Zoom.
One report to the IDF indicated the possibility that Hamas “actually laid an explosive device on the road and caused damage to a convoy that was actually heading down,” Lerner said.
READ MORE: “Attack them everywhere,” IDF commander tells troops
As of early Tuesday in Israel, some 300,000 IDF troops massed on the border of the narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea. The troops moved into position barely a week after Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern Israel, and killed more than 1,300 people.
Israel has warned residents to leave areas where Hamas stages its operations, Lerner said. These include civilian structures such as apartment buildings and schools, from where the terrorists launch their operations against Israel.
An Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said, “We want people to go south.”
Despite the warnings, Hamas is trying to stop people from leaving, Lerner said.
“They tried to prevent it both by public awareness campaigns by disseminating information calling them to say and withhold, and the Israelis aren’t really going to come,” he said. “They also tried to prevent it physically” via checkpoints manned by terrorists.
More than 98% of those who live in the communities have been evacuated out of the conflict zone, Lerner said.
Hamas on Monday night released the first clip showing an Israeli hostage, as it said some 200-250 captives were taken during the massive onslaught in southern Israel on October 7.
The short video showed 21-year-old Mia Schem, who was kidnapped by terrorists while she attended the music festival in Kibbutz Re’im.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Monday called Hamas “cold-blooded murderers,” and said the group has terrorized both Israelis and Palestinians living in Gaza. Warner made his remarks while appearing on CNN.
Susan Katz Keating is the publisher and editor in chief of Soldier of Fortune.