How Israel’s tanks swooped on Gaza in lightning raid on Hamas: Heavy duty bulldozers and APCs lead the charge smashing through border defences in ‘targeted’ night attack ahead of IDF’s major ground assault
- Israel is preparing for a ground offensive using APCs, tanks and bulldozers
Israel used a swarm of tanks, bulldozers and APCs to launch a targeted night assault against Hamas targets in Gaza on Wednesday night in its biggest incursion since the terror group’s October 7 atrocities.
Ahead of a suspected imminent ground incursion by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), soldiers burst through border walls separating the Gaza Strip from Israel using armoured bulldozers before claiming to have taken out military targets.
The IDF said it suffered no casualties in the operation to ‘prepare the battlefield’ after a brutal, fortnight-long siege on the Palestinian territory.
Grainy footage shared on social media showed armoured vehicles crossing the highly fortified barrier from Israel and blowing up buildings ‘in preparation for the next stages of combat’.
‘Tanks and infantry struck numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts,’ the IDF said.
It represented the most significant escalation of Israeli force since Hamas’s bloody rampage across southern Israel saw 1,400 civilians murdered and more than 200 kidnapped.
Leading the push into Gaza territory on Wednesday night was the ‘Doobie’ – a type of armoured bulldozer that boasts bulletproof windows and metal slats which deflect RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades).
The bulldozers, named after the Hebrew for teddy bear, are designed to burst through obstacles such as border fences and walls in order to pave the way for soldiers and other armoured vehicles.
Also seen in footage of the assault were 50-tonne Namer armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and columns of Merkava tanks.
The tanks can carry up to ten people – four crew and six passengers – and weigh 65 tonnes each.
Last night tanks broke through the northern Gaza border and headed southwards, in a possible rehearsal of a future full-scale invasion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli troops were still preparing for a full ground invasion, while the US urged Israel to delay, fearing it could ignite hostilities on other Middle East fronts.
Palestinians said Israeli air strikes pounded the territory again on Thursday evening and people in central Gaza reported intensive tank shelling.
Israel’s defence minister said his country would invade Gaza when the ‘conditions are right’. ‘The day it will come is not far off… the manoeuvre will start when conditions are right,’ Yoav Gallant said. He added that Israel had no interest in war with any other foe than Hamas.
‘We are waging war on the southern front against Hamas, prepared for any development in the north, Hezbollah is suffering a lot of losses.
People search for survivors and the bodies of victims through the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip
Smoke and fire rise from buildings as people gather amid the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli strike on Gaza City on October 26
A man carries an injured child at a hospital in Khan Younis following an Israeli airstrike
Whole areas of Gaza have been razed to the ground
Palestinians inspect the rubble of destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes
‘However, we have no interest in expanding the war,’ he said.
READ MORE: Wiped off the map: Before-and-after satellite images show how Israeli airstrikes have laid waste to entire Gaza neighbourhoods after two weeks of bombardments
Dozens of suspected Hamas terror operatives have been arrested by the IDF in a series of raids in the West Bank.
IDF officers have detained 1,000 Palestinians since October 7, around 660 of whom are thought to be affiliated with Hamas.
The force said it detained 46 suspected Hamas members during the overnight raids on Wednesday. There has been increased violence between IDF forces and Palestinians in the West Bank since the Hamas attacks of October 7.
A ground offensive on the densely populated, 25 mile-long slither of land which makes up the Gaza Strip is seen as necessary by Israel to achieve its aim of crushing the terror group, which has ruled since 2007.
Wednesday’s overnight raid was conducted in parallel with an intensified bombing campaign by the Israeli air force on 250 Hamas targets.
The Israel Defence Force (IDF) later published footage it claimed showed its fighter jets carrying out a ‘precise air strike’ which eliminated the commander of Hamas’s Northern Khan Yunis rocket firing capability, Hassan Al-Abdullah.
Philip Ingram, a former British Army intelligence officer, told the Mail that Israel’s incursion would have been an attempt to trigger Hamas defences and see where potential ambushes could lie.
He said: ‘It’s what is called shaping the battlespace. They’re putting small forces in to improve their understanding of what defences Hamas have got in place to try to pinpoint potential sniper and ambush locations.
‘They will try to look at where there might be entrances to the tunnel system that Hamas could pop up from, that they would have to deal with very quickly.
‘You’ll find in the coming days, there will be an increase in volume of these at different places across the border, into the Gaza Strip, before they then put a slightly larger force through that will set up a bridgehead which will then be used to launch their main efforts.’
He added that Hamas has had more than 12 months to prepare for a potential ground invasion so Israel will be aware that it is going into ‘effectively a pre-prepared live ambush situation’.
Benny Gantz, a retired general and a member of Israel’s war cabinet, said any possible ground offensive would be only ‘one stage in a long-term process that includes security, political and social aspects that would take many years’.
‘The campaign will soon ramp up with greater force,’ he added.
People seek cover during a rocket alert while attending a demonstration calling to release the hostages taken to the Gaza Strip
Wounded Palestinians receive treatment at the al-Shifa hospital, following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City
Palestinians search for survivors and the bodies of victims through the rubble of buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment
Smoke and fire rise from buildings as rescuers gather amid the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli strike on Gaza City
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on Thursday
An injured man sits in front of a smouldering building in the aftermath of an Israeli strike on Gaza City
Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry claimed yesterday that the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes since October 7 now stood at 7,028, including 2,913 children.
It represented an increase of more than 500 since Wednesday.
Israel has bombarded the densely populated Gaza Strip following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israeli communities. Israel says Hamas killed some 1,400 people including children, and took more than 200 hostages, some of them infants and older adults.
The US State Department said Washington knows that a significant number of people have died in Gaza but does not have independent confirmation of numbers, and it does not trust figures released by Hamas.
The Israeli military has also said Hamas figures cannot be trusted, but has not provided its own assessment. Hamas spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra rejected statements questioning the figures.
The ministry on Thursday published a 212-page document which it said contains the names of all the victims who have been identified and their ID numbers.
In a further attempt to increase the geopolitical pressure on its allies, terror group Hamas yesterday called on Arab and Islamic states to sever diplomatic relations with Israel.
It further demanded all states in the Arab League, whose members include Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, boycott Israel entirely.
The devastation wrought on Gaza from the air has caused a major humanitarian crisis, worsened by Israel’s refusal to allow any aid into the Strip through its borders. Egypt has since agreed to help facilitate the delivery of aid through its shared border with southern Gaza and yesterday 12 lorries successfully crossed into the shattered region.
The UN warned that it was on the verge of running out of fuel in Gaza, forcing it to sharply curtail relief efforts.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry said 100 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by the IDF since October 7.
Last night, two drones reportedly targeted US al-Harir air base near Erbil Airport in Iraq, a local news outlet announced.
A delegation from Hamas arrived in Moscow yesterday for talks with the Kremlin, the Russian foreign ministry announced.
Among the Hamas delegation was senior member of the proscribed terror group Abu Marzouk. According to Russian news agencies, the talks centred on the release of foreign hostages including Russian citizens being held hostage in Gaza.
Russia has developed close ties with Hamas as it has become more dependent on Iran’s weapons in its war on Ukraine.
It came as the US said an additional 900 troops had either just arrived or were heading to the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
As tensions soar over the Israel-Hamas war, US troops have been attacked at least 12 times in Iraq and four times in Syria in the past week, Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told a news briefing.
Ryder said US forces were targeted earlier on Thursday in Iraq but the attack failed.
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