The announcement doesn’t appear to be the start of a highly anticipated, larger ground invasion from Israel.
Israeli troops carried out raids over the past day in Gaza in an “effort to eliminate the threat of terrorists and weapons in the area and locate hostages,” the Israel Defense Forces said Friday.
The military also said it “thwarted terrorist cells and infrastructure located in the area, including a Hamas cell that fired anti-tank missiles toward Israeli territory.”
It’s the first time that ground troops have operated inside the Gaza Strip, but it doesn’t appear to be the start of a highly anticipated, larger ground invasion from Israel.
The announcement comes shortly after Israel instructed all civilians in Gaza City to evacuate and head south.
“Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
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“In the following days, the IDF will continue to operate significantly in Gaza City and make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians,” it continued.
But the United Nations decried the order, calling it “impossible” without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
Troops have been gathering along the border of Israel and Gaza ahead of what’s expected to be a brutal and bloody boots-on-the-ground operation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been promising for days.