Israel ramps up military activity along Gaza border as ground invasion looms with troops


Heavy machine gun fire was heard along the Israel-Gaza border in the early hours of Friday, after the green light was given for a ground invasion.

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, on Thursday visited troops positioned along the Gaza border, and told them that they would soon see the Palestinian enclave ‘from inside’.

An infantry commander in the IDF told DailyMail.com on Thursday that they were ready to invade, adding there was ‘a very high level of optimism’ among his troops.

Israel’s leaders are determined to rid Gaza of its Hamas rulers, even if that means going house-to-house in an operation that could last ‘years’ and result in further major casualties among Palestinians. 

They have refused to discuss plans for what will happen in Gaza after Hamas is toppled. President Joe Biden, who was in Israel on Wednesday, asked about a post-Hamas Gaza, and was reportedly told that all resources were currently focused on the invasion, rather than the day after. 

But several Israeli politicians have referenced creating an expanded demilitarized zone around the border.

In the early hours of Friday, CNN‘s international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, reported seeing an increase of Israeli military activity around the Israel-Gaza border.

Israeli armoured vehicles gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel on Friday

Israeli armoured vehicles gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel on Friday 

Israeli tanks gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday

Israeli tanks gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday 

Israeli armoured vehicles gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday

Israeli armoured vehicles gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday 

Israeli armoured vehicles gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday

Israeli armoured vehicles gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday 

Israeli troops are seen patrolling near the border with Gaza on Thursday, ahead of the invasion

Israeli troops are seen patrolling near the border with Gaza on Thursday, ahead of the invasion

Israeli tanks seen on a road near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel on Friday

Israeli tanks seen on a road near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel on Friday

Israeli soldiers listen to Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant as he meets them in a field near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel on Thursday

Israeli soldiers listen to Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant as he meets them in a field near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel on Thursday

Israeli soldiers prepare for the scenario of ground manoeuvres at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday

Israeli soldiers prepare for the scenario of ground manoeuvres at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday 

Smoke rises in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike, as seen from Sderot, Israel, on Friday

Smoke rises in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike, as seen from Sderot, Israel, on Friday

Rescue workers move debris at the site of Israeli strikes on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Friday

Rescue workers move debris at the site of Israeli strikes on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Friday 

A view of the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip on Friday

A view of the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip on Friday

It comes hours after Gallant banged the drum of war in a briefing to Israeli troops massed on the border with Gaza, telling them to ‘annihilate’ Hamas and that they will soon see the enclave ‘from the inside’. 

He told them: ‘Whoever sees Gaza from afar will soon see it from the inside. The command will come, I promise you. 

‘There is no forgiveness for this thing. Only total annihilation of Hamas organization – terror infrastructures, everything that has to do with terrorists and whoever sent them. 

‘It will take a week, it will take a month, it will take two months, until we annihilate them. You are not alone in battle. We trust you and count on you. Carry on training while there is time.’ 

Tens of thousands of Israeli troops are now positioned on the border for the imminent ground assault on the Gaza Strip, where 203 hostages are being held captive by Hamas terrorists. 

It comes as Israel continued to pound Gaza with withering airstrikes today, as the millions of Palestinians trapped in the enclave desperately awaited a first delivery of international emergency aid. 

In the nearly two weeks since Israel began its withering aerial bombardment in response to a devastating attack by Hamas terrorists that saw 1,300 people slaughtered, thousands of homes have been destroyed across the 25-mile enclave and 3,785 Palestinians killed, including 1,524 children.  

On Thursday, the Israeli army said it had destroyed a missile launch site and tunnels, claiming ‘more than 10 terrorists were eliminated’.

Citing a deepening humanitarian crisis, the international community has urged Israel to minimise civilian casualties and allow desperately-needed aid to enter Gaza.

But inside Israel, the drumbeat of war has only grown louder.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, rallied troops near Gaza on Thursday, suggesting the invasion was imminent. Decked in body armour, he vowed troops would ‘fight like lions’ and ‘win with full force’.

When asked about the military’s movements, IDF spokesman Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus told CNN that the military was ready, but would not announce their invasion in advance.

‘The reserves are ready, equipped, mission-oriented, and standing by for the next stage of our operations,’ said Conricus. ‘But at this time, of course, we will not advertise when, where, and how we will advance or do or enhance our military activities.’

A formation of Israeli tanks and other military is positioned near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, on Friday

A formation of Israeli tanks and other military is positioned near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, on Friday 

Israeli military convoys are seen on the move near the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday

Israeli military convoys are seen on the move near the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday

Israeli soldiers prepare for the scenario of ground manoeuvres at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday

Israeli soldiers prepare for the scenario of ground manoeuvres at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday 

Palestinian man grieves over the body of a relative wrapped in a shroud labelled with a name, at the Najjar hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

Palestinian man grieves over the body of a relative wrapped in a shroud labelled with a name, at the Najjar hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday 

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday

A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Friday shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli strike

A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Friday shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli strike

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during his visit to Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border on Thursday

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during his visit to Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border on Thursday 

Israeli soldiers prepare for the scenario of ground manoeuvres at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday

Israeli soldiers prepare for the scenario of ground manoeuvres at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza, in Israel, on Friday 

A view of a damaged car covered in debris at the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Friday

A view of a damaged car covered in debris at the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Friday

Burned cars next to homes that came under attack during a massive Hamas invasion into Kibbutz Nir Oz, Israel, on Thursday

Burned cars next to homes that came under attack during a massive Hamas invasion into Kibbutz Nir Oz, Israel, on Thursday 

Nir Barkat, Israel’s economy minister, confirmed that the invasion had been approved, and now it was up to the military to decide when to strike.

‘The Israeli government made a decision, gave a green light to the army to wipe them out and now it’s in the hands of the army,’ he said.

Troops were not expected to enter while foreign leaders were visiting.

Biden left Israel on Wednesday evening: Britain’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, visited on Thursday morning, and then left for Saudi Arabia.

Biden addressed the American people from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday night – only his second Oval Office address since becoming president.

He used his speech to explain why the Israeli war, and the Ukraine battle, were so crucial to the United States.

Biden also urged implementation of a deal he brokered with Israel and Egypt to allow a limited amount of aid into Gaza from Friday.

‘The people of Gaza urgently need food, water and medicine,’ Biden said in a televised address from the Oval Office on his return from Tel Aviv.

But near Egypt’s border with Gaza, food, medicines, water purifiers and blankets have been piling up, with doubts growing that the Rafah crossing will open as planned.

‘We hope there will be a crossing tomorrow,’ World Health Organization (WHO) boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

‘But for sure, based on the experience we had the last few days, we are also at the same time worried whether this will happen.’

Meanwhile in Israel, one veteran IDF commander told DailyMail.com that his troops were ready to ‘wipe Hamas out’.

Biden addressed the American people from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday night - only his second Oval Office address since becoming president

Biden addressed the American people from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday night – only his second Oval Office address since becoming president

Eliezer, a major in the IDF who goes by Ezzy, spoke to DailyMail.com from southern Israel

Eliezer, a major in the IDF who goes by Ezzy, spoke to DailyMail.com from southern Israel

Ezzy said that his troops were clear about their mission and ready for the order to go in to Gaza

Ezzy said that his troops were clear about their mission and ready for the order to go in to Gaza 

Israeli tanks are seen moving along the Gaza border on Thursday

Israeli tanks are seen moving along the Gaza border on Thursday

Eliezer, a major in the IDF who goes by Ezzy, and did not want to give his last name, is stationed in the south of Israel with the Golani Brigade – a group of reservists, often one of the first to be called up for active duty.

Ezzy signed up in 2004 and has served in the last four major wars in Israel, as an engineer, rabbi and commander.

The veteran IDF commander serves as a rabbi as well as an engineer in his unit

The veteran IDF commander serves as a rabbi as well as an engineer in his unit

His unit is designated to lead the forces of the Brigade – neutralizing mine fields, creating new pathways, capturing bridgeheads, and detonating explosives, he told DailyMail.com.

‘Without a question, this is different than any year,’ he said. ‘But morale is very high, very optimistic.’

Ezzy said the terror attacks of October 7 have galvanized his troops.

‘Obviously the first days we experienced the initial shock. Tons of mourning – but there wasn’t a lot of time to mourn,’ he said.

‘We didn’t know when we would go in, we thought we would go in to Gaza a lot earlier.’

Ezzy said there was a strong sense of purpose among the soldiers.

‘We are very close.

‘There’s a lot of brotherhood, and with time the spirit is going up – there’s a very high level of optimism.

‘I can’t remember Israel so united. More than ever I feel the support – we get messages.’

He said they appreciated international support for their war on Hamas.

‘I feel the world is united – it’s not just Jewish people, It’s anyone who understands there’s good and evil,’ he said.

‘They understand Israel is fighting for the good of this world – not just for Israel, but for light in this world.’

And he said his troops were ready to go in to Gaza.

‘The soldiers are trained – they want to go in,’ he said, adding that they were spending their days ‘sharpening our skills on the planning and physical level.’

‘They’re ready, but we take day by day,’ he added. We see every day that we don’t go in as a blessing because we can use it to train and to become better prepared.’

A picture taken from Sderot shows smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, as Israel pummels Gaza in preparation for a land invasion

A picture taken from Sderot shows smoke plumes rising above buildings during an Israeli strike on the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, as Israel pummels Gaza in preparation for a land invasion

A fireball erupts during Israeli bombardment in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday

A fireball erupts during Israeli bombardment in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday

A Palestinian man uses a fire extinguisher to douse a fire following an Israeli strike on October 8 in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian man uses a fire extinguisher to douse a fire following an Israeli strike on October 8 in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip

Avi Dichter, former commander of the Shin Bet domestic security agency, who now serves as the agriculture minister, is seen in Sderot on Thursday

Avi Dichter, former commander of the Shin Bet domestic security agency, who now serves as the agriculture minister, is seen in Sderot on Thursday

Ezzy said their mission was ‘clear’, describing the aims of the invasion as straightforward.

‘Hamas has to be wiped out,’ he said. ‘There’s no argument – it’s clear. We always knew what their (Hamas) intent was and now we know what their capabilities are.

‘We know we have to completely eradicate the enemy and that’s what we have to do. It’s unknown when exactly we will go in. We are taking it day by day.’

Israel’s agriculture minister, Avi Dichter – who was previously head of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency — said on Thursday during a visit to the border town of Sderot that a buffer zone would be created within Gaza.

At present, Israel’s border security begins several hundred yards inside Israel’s territory.

Dichter said that needed to change, with a ‘no man’s land’ between the Gazan territory and Israel, The Financial Times reported. 

‘It’s not that you started it from inside the Gaza Strip, as a buffer zone,’ he told a media briefing. 

‘You started it on the Israeli side — 50 to 100 metres inside. We understand it was a mistake, it has to be fixed.’

The 20-foot-tall border fence currently has a 100-yard buffer zone, backed by radar, motion sensors, a deep concrete foundation to deter tunneling, and observation towers.

Construction on the ‘smart fence’ began after 2016 and was completed in 2021.

But on October 7, Hamas launched its attacks from Gaza, bursting through the border fence and rampaging through Israel for hours.

Dichter said they would no longer allow Gazans to approach the fence – effectively squeezing Gaza’s territory. 

‘On the Gaza Strip all along, we will have a margin,’ he said.

‘And they will not be able to get in. It will be a fire zone. And no matter who you are, you will never be able to come close to the Israeli border.’ 

Israel previously maintained a buffer zone inside Gaza after it withdrew from the strip in 2005. But over the years the buffer was eroded.

Dichter said the width of any future buffer zone would have to be decided ‘according to the area, the needs of the military, according to the distance of the Israeli military or the Israeli settlements’. 

He added: ‘We have Kibbutz Nahal Oz that is 800 metres from the border. So you need to take more precautions in such an area. 

‘The whole contour of the Gaza Strip, it doesn’t allow us to take risks. We have seen what happened when we took risks. It was a mistake we are not going to repeat.’

Another Israeli official added: ‘Obviously Gaza tomorrow will not look anything like it did before October 7. 

‘Hamas will be dismantled, as will Islamic Jihad, and they won’t be able to attack Israel again. 

‘How it looks territorially .- we don’t have the details, but that is our objective: There won’t be any terrorists on our border like there was before.’

It comes as the Israeli army announced plans to evacuate the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on Friday, after days of clashes with Hezbollah terrorists along the border with Lebanon.

‘A short while ago, the Northern Command informed the mayor of the city of the decision. The plan will be managed by the local authority, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Defence,’ the military said in a statement.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions have traded cross-border fire with Israel for days after Hamas gunmen launched their savage attack on October 7.

Israel’s military said its forces continued to target Hezbollah targets as tensions grew along the border.

‘The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) carried out a number of attacks against Hezbollah infrastructure, including observation posts,’ the army said early Friday.

‘In addition, IDF fighter jets struck three terrorists who attempted to launch anti-tank missiles toward Israel.’

Israeli authorities have been steadily evacuating communities across the northern frontier, as reservists and columns of tanks and armoured vehicles poured into the area.



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