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Israel ‘ground forces’ conduct night raid in Gaza: army

The Israeli military said Friday its ground forces backed by fighter jets and drones carried out a “targeted raid” in Gaza as it prepares for a land invasion. Israel has been carrying out blistering air and artillery strikes against Gaza in response to an October 7 attack by Hamas militants that was the deadliest in the country’s history. “During the last day, IDF (Israeli military) ground forces, accompanied by IDF fighter jets and UAVs, conducted an additional targeted raid in the central Gaza Strip,” an army statement said. “The IDF identified and struck numerous terror targets, including anti-tank missile launch sites, military command and control centres, as well as Hamas terrorists,” it said, saying troops “exited the area at the end of the activity”. Black-and-white footage released by the military showed a column of armoured vehicles as a thick cloud of dust billowed into the night sky after the strikes. The military conducted a similar ground operation using tanks and infantry the previous night in the northern part of the Palestinian territory. The incursions come days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was “preparing for a ground offensive”. But Hamas said Israeli troops had also tried to stage an incursion by sea by the southern town of Rafah early on Friday, which it said was thwarted by its armed wing. “The enemy tried to carry out a large-scale amphibious operation on Rafah’s coast at dawn on Friday, where the attempt was discovered and confronted by fighters,” an Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades statement said. “The (Israeli) air force intervened and they fled by sea, leaving behind a quantity of weapons.” Following the publication of the Hamas statement, the Israeli military confirmed the operation — saying IDF soldiers conducted a “targeted raid from the sea” in the southern Gaza Strip. “The soldiers struck Hamas military infrastructure and operated in a compound used by Hamas’ commando naval forces. Israeli navy vessels and aircraft took part in the activity,” said the military. On October 7, throngs of Hamas gunmen poured from Gaza into Israel, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping another 229, according to Israeli officials. In retaliatory Israeli air and artillery strikes, at least 7,028 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including 2,913 children, according to figures released by the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory. The fatalities in Gaza are the highest since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory in 2005.

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