Jerusalem Post: “Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived near the Gaza border … closely monitored the readiness of the Israeli forces for a possible ground invasion of Gaza.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued airstrikes against terrorist targets in Gaza a day after Hamas released two American hostages in a deal felicitated by Qatar.
“Israel kept up heavy bombardment of targets throughout Gaza overnight on Saturday,” Reuters reported. “After Netanyahu signalled no pause in Israel’s aerial onslaught and expected ground invasion, its military said fighter jets had struck a “large number of Hamas terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip” including command centres and combat positions inside multi-story buildings,” the news agency added.
IDF drills for Gaza ground offensive
The Israeli media reports on late Friday suggest that the military is moving closer to launching a much-anticipated ground offensive in terrorist-controlled Gaza. “Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived near the Gaza border on Friday night to meet with IDF officials,” the Jerusalem Post reported. “He closely monitored the readiness of the Israeli forces for a possible ground invasion of Gaza.”
The IDF soldiers, many of them reservists, are carrying out drills for an impending ground offensive against Hamas. The Times of Israel reported Saturday afternoon:
The Israel Defense Forces says that it continuing to prepare for the expected ground offensive in the Gaza Strip with “plans for the expansion of the fighting” being approved in recent days.
Troops are “conducting training in accordance with the approved operational plans,” the IDF says.
The IDF has deployed tens of thousands of troops to the Gaza border in recent days, ahead of a major ground incursion which officials have said will begin “soon.”
Following the Hamas shock terror attack the IDF called up 360,000 reservists to duty, making it one of the largest mobilization in the country’s history.
IDF says Gaza operation going as planned amid Biden’s ‘gaffe’
The IDF confirmed that it was not going to stall operations aimed at extracting hostages and hunting down the culprits behind the October 7 terrorist which killed 1400 people. “Release of 2 hostages won’t affect impending Gaza operation,” the Israeli TV channel i24NEWS reported Saturday citing military sources.
The IDF’s clarification came hours after President Joe Biden ‘misspoke’ at a press conference on Friday suggesting Israel should delay ground operations in Gaza until more hostages get released.
The Jerusalem Post reported Saturday:
US President Joe Biden misheard a question from a reporter who asked whether Israel should delay a potential ground invasion of Gaza until more hostages can get out, when he answered, “yes,” the White House said.
“The president was far away. He didn’t hear the full question. The question sounded like ‘Would you like to see more hostages released?’ He wasn’t commenting on anything else,” White House spokesperson Ben LaBolt said.
Biden was walking up the steps to board Air Force One when a reporter shouted the question over the sound of the plane’s engines. Biden stopped for a moment and said, “yes,” and then proceeded onto the plane.
Hamas on Friday had released two American hostages, a woman and her teenage daughter, taken captive during October 7 terrorist attacks. “Hamas militants on Friday freed two Americans, a mother and her teenage daughter, who had been held hostage in Gaza since militants rampaged through Israel two weeks ago,” the Associated Press reported.
More than 200 people, including a dozen Americans, have falling into Hamas’ captivity during the surprise terrorist strike.
Arab Israeli and IDF combat soldier threatens Hamas: "You murdered our brothers and sisters. We are coming to Gaza to cleanse it of your evil. Arabs of the Negev are neither with you nor with your hypocrisy, you don't believe in Allah."
— Emily Schrader – אמילי שריידר امیلی شریدر (@emilykschrader) October 20, 2023
IDF takes out more top Hamas operatives
Israeli military eliminated a senior Hamas operative commanding terrorist group’s drone warfare and other advanced weaponry. Israel has taken out half a dozen senior Hamas commanders since the counter-terror operations began fifteen days ago, the IDF confirmed Friday.
An IDF press release on Friday said:
The IDF neutralized Mahmud Sabih, a senior Hamas terrorist operative who served as a senior engineer and unit head in Hamas’ projects and development department.
The department operated in order to increase Hamas’ weapons capabilities, exchanging knowledge with terrorist organization across the Middle East.
Mahmud Sabih operated to facilitate the transfer of information for Hamas in the production of weapons and UAVs.
However, the top Hamas leadership directing the terrorist warfare is hiding the plain sight in Qatar, a Gulf Arab state with close ties to Iran and global Islamist groups.
The IDF also struck Hezbollah targets in the north. Since the conflict started earlier this month, the Iran-backed Shia-Islamic militia has increased terror attacks into Israel from its base in southern Lebanon.
IDF: Over the last few hours, in response to rocket launches and anti-tank missiles fired toward Israel, IDF aircraft struck Hezbollah terror targets.
Among these terror targets were military compounds used for operational and terror purposes, as well as Hezbollah terror… pic.twitter.com/ywprVhWx2n
— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) October 21, 2023
Bomb blast outside Israeli embassy in Cyprus
As Hamas calls on Muslims across the world to join in its jihad against Israel, a bomb went off outside the Israeli embassy in Cyprus on Saturday morning.
In recent years, Iran’s Islamic Guard (IRGC) has tried to target Israeli and Jewish sites in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus.
The i24NEWS reported:
Authorities in Cyprus were alerted early Saturday morning to an explosion near the Israeli embassy. During an inspection near the embassy, officers found a detonated metal object with pyrotechnics, causing no major damage.
Later, two suspicious individuals near a car with knives and a hammer were apprehended. The car owner, 21, was arrested for stabbing and weapon possession.
As of now, a 17-year-old, 20-year-old, and two 21-year-olds are under interrogation at the Nicosia CID.
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