The Israel Defense Forces deployed tanks and soldiers into the Gaza Strip overnight on Thursday to carry out a second targeted raid in as many days, the military said.
The incursion included infantry, combat engineering and armored forces, with drones and combat helicopters providing cover, according to the IDF.
Additionally, artillery and airstrikes targeted Hamas terror assets, including command centers and anti-tank missile launch sites.
Israeli tanks also rolled into the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday night in a pinpoint raid “as part of preparations for the next stages of combat.”
Under the lead of the Givati Brigade, an infantry unit, Israeli forces struck terrorists and their infrastructure, including anti-tank missile launch posts, and “operated to prepare the battlefield” before returning to Israeli territory.
Army Radio reported that the raid was more extensive than other ground activities that have been carried out in Gaza in the last two and a half weeks since the start of “Operation Swords of Iron,” which was declared in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror invasion of southern Israel that killed 1,400 people and wounded thousands more.
The Israeli Air Force is eliminating a growing number of senior Hamas commanders as the terror organization intensified rocket fire across central Israel.
The air force killed the deputy head of Hamas’s Intelligence Directorate, who was responsible for planning the Oct. 7 massacre together with Yahya Sinwar, the IDF announced on Thursday, naming the target as Shadi Barud.
According to IDF International Spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, Hamas has begun activating its long-range rockets, as seen in salvos fired in recent days at Haifa in the north and Eilat in the south, as well as rocket fire at the Tel Aviv region on Thursday.
As of Thursday evening, the IDF has counted 309 fallen soldiers, 224 confirmed hostages and 100 missing people.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday night vowed to lead the Jewish state to victory over Hamas.
“On Oct. 7, Hamas began a war—a war against the citizens of Israel, against little children, against women, against Holocaust survivors,” said Gallant in a televised address. “It’s a war of murder, rape, kidnapping, looting.”
In an apparent reference to the anticipated ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, Gallant reiterated that “additional stages in the war will also come. We are creating the conditions for them and we will carry them out.
“Nothing like has happened in Israel’s 75 years of existence,” the defense minister said. “What will happen in the next 75 years depends largely on the achievements in this battle.”