The Israel Defense Forces launched a limited ground raid into Gaza overnight, the IDF said on Thursday. The raid was part of Israel’s response to the Hamas terrorist attack three weeks ago.
The raid, led by the Givati infantry brigade and the 162nd Armored Division, “struck numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts” before returning to Israeli territory, the IDF said.
The operation was done to prepare “for the next stages of combat,” the IDF said.
The operation included engineering work to prepare for expanded operations, the military said. Additionally, soldiers completed work on clearing explosives from near the security fence while also “rehabilitating the IDF’s surveillance network around the Gaza Strip.”
Israeli officials have pledged to ensure Hamas can no longer carry out attacks that threaten Israel following the Oct. 7 attack by the militant group that killed about 1,400 people.
The Israeli military has called up 300,000 reservists and stationed troops near the Gaza border ahead of an expected ground offensive.
In a televised statement Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was “preparing for a ground invasion. I will not elaborate on when, how or how many.”
Israel has warned people living in the northern part of the Gaza Strip to move south in a move the military said was meant to minimize harm to civilians.
Hamas has released four hostages in recent days, an American woman and her daughter and two elderly Israeli women. But the U.S. State Department warned in a statement of how difficult the release of more will be.
“You can imagine how complicated it is,” the statement said. “We’re dealing with Israel, Egypt, and Hamas, and we’re not talking directly to Hamas. Egypt can send messages to Hamas. Qatar can send messages to Hamas. But you can imagine how difficult every little thing is. Every bit of this is complicated.
“It’s like unlocking a puzzle where you unlock a layer that can unlock one little piece of it,” the State Department noted. “And then another obstacle pops up, and you’ve got to go figure out with all the parties, how to unlock that piece.”
The overnight operation lasted a few hours, and no soldiers were hurt, according to IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.
In the northern sector, meanwhile, Hezbollah continued to launch attacks that aim to pull Israeli forces from the focus on Hamas, the IDF said.
With reporting by VOA and The Times of Israel