Israel to ‘significantly’ widen ground offensive in Gaza as death toll mounts

Israel’s military is ready for a “significant expansion” of the Gaza ground offensive that has already claimed at least 24 lives. The offensive began on Thursday night with the aim of destroying the weapons arsenal, infrastructure and underground tunnels used by Hamas, Israeli officials claimed. An Israeli soldier and at least 23 Palestinians have already been killed in the operation, according to Palestinian officials.

My instructions are to prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation, and the military is preparing accordingly.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a ground assault was the only way to infiltrate Hamas’ underground network. By daylight IDF reported it had “neutralised 14 terrorists, destroyed 20 rocket launchers, carried out nine strikes on tunnels and hit a total of 103 terror targets”. Israel confirmed 20-year-old Sgt Eitan Barak had been “killed fighting Hamas terrorists”. The country’s media is investigating the possibility he was a victim of so-called friendly fire. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the ground offensive “foolish”, adding that Israel would suffer “dreadful consequences”.