Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited a naval base on Monday in Ashdod, where he conducted a situation assessment and toured the shores of Israel’s southern border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Gallant commended the troops for neutralizing dozens of terrorists during Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion that killed 1,400 people in the Jewish state. He also emphasized the integral role that the Navy will play in the next phase of the war.
“I have just patrolled our coast together with the men and women of the Israeli Navy. These are the people who fought the attack conducted by Hamas two weeks ago. They struck the terrorists and their boats, and then participated in the combat taking place on land,” said Gallant.
“My message to the soldiers—well done, you did an excellent job. Keep preparing for our operation, it will come soon. We are preparing thoroughly for the next step—a multilateral operation in the air, ground, and sea. Do your work, get ready. We will need you,” added the minister.
The Israeli Air Force is striking hundreds of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) targets in Gaza, including tunnels with terrorists in them, while infantry and armored corps conducted raids on the ground in the enclave in preparation for a wider ground offensive, the Israeli military stated on Monday.
Dozens of operational command centers housing Hamas and PIJ operatives were also hit, according to Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.
Strikes were also conducted on targets that posed a threat to forces in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, including dozens of mortar and anti-tank missile launch sites, said Hagari.
The raids into Gaza are being conducted by armored and infantry units against terror cells that were “preparing for our next stage,” while also seeking out information for hostages and the missing, added the spokesman.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the Biden administration is advising Israel to delay its ground operation in Gaza to allow more time to negotiate the release of hostages held by Hamas.