Israel stages large overnight ground raid into Gaza Strip

Israeli troops and tanks have carried out a brief yet relatively large overnight ground incursion into Gaza ahead of a widely expected full-scale ground invasion after nearly three weeks of devastating air raids on the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Video of the overnight action issued by the Israeli army on Thursday showed armoured vehicles proceeding through a sandy border zone. A bulldozer is seen levelling part of a raised bank, tanks fire shells, and explosions are seen near or amid a row of damaged buildings.

“Overnight, the IDF conducted a targeted raid using tanks in the northern Gaza Strip, as part of preparations for the next stages of combat,” the Israeli military said in a statement on Thursday. “The soldiers exited the area at the end of the activity.”

Israel has already made several limited advances into the Gaza Strip over the past two and a half weeks, but this was the biggest incursion of the current war, according to Israel’s Army Radio.

“There have been similar attacks in the past where soldiers crossed into Gaza. What makes this one unusual is that it is the first time that tanks have been involved,” said Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.

“According to the Israeli army, they moved in with specific targets in mind. The Israeli army claims to have killed a number of Hamas fighters and to have damaged a significant amount of infrastructure that could be used by the Palestinian group.”

“They also stated that they had targeted antitank posts that had been set up. This is clearly in preparation for what the next stage of the war will be,” our correspondent said.


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