The Israel Defense Forces will soon enter the Gaza Strip, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi told troops during a visit to southern Israel on Sunday. Their mission, he said, was simple: “to win.”
“Our responsibility now is to enter Gaza, to go to the places where Hamas is preparing, acting, planning, launching. Attack them everywhere, every commander, every operative, destroy infrastructure. In one word, to win,” said Halevi during an address to soldiers of the IDF’s 162nd Armored Division.
“We’re going to do something big, important. To change the situation for a long, long time, in a clear way. 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,” the chief of staff concluded.
The Hamas terrorist organization killed at least 1,400 Israelis and wounded more than 3,500 in a massive offensive launched from Gaza on Oct. 7, which included firing more than 6,000 rockets at the Jewish state.
Halevi’s visit to the south came amid preparations for a major ground offensive, with the IDF saying that hundreds of thousands of reservists were readying for the surge against Hamas, which the army said could include “combined and coordinated strikes from the air, sea and land.”
Israel plans to target Gaza City and Hamas leadership, The New York Times reported on Saturday, citing three senior Israeli military officials.
The reported plan involves sending 10,000 troops into the Palestinian coastal enclave in what is expected to be Israel’s biggest ground invasion since the 2006 Lebanon War and the first time that the IDF has attempted to at least capture and hold territory in the Strip since 2008.
Israel has not formally announced a ground incursion, although the IDF confirmed that infantry and tanks had conducted “localized raids” in the Gaza Strip on Friday and Saturday.
The goal of the operation will be “the rout of Hamas and the elimination of its leaders after the slaughter they perpetrated,” IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Saturday.
According to a report by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster on Sunday, Israel’s wartime Cabinet has approved four formal goals: the collapse of Hamas’s rule and the destruction of its military capacities, the removal of the broader terror threat from Gaza, resolving the hostage crisis and protecting Israel’s borders and citizens.
On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a rare national televised address. It was the first time an Israeli premier had addressed the nation on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, in three decades.
“We will obliterate Hamas, we will triumph. It might take time, but we will end this war stronger than ever. ‘May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them,'” Netanyahu said from military headquarters in Tel Aviv.