Netanyahu hints at ground operation during visit to Israeli troops on Gaza border

Netanyahu hints at ground operation during visit to Israeli troops on Gaza border

Israeli premier inspects areas in southern Israel that had come under attack, says 'the next phase is approaching'

By Mucahit Aydemir

JERUSALEM (AA) – In a visit to troops stationed in southern Israel on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at a ground operation in Gaza.

Netanyahu visited the Be'eri and Kfar Aza settlements in southern Israel, which had been targeted by Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, on Oct. 7 following an incursion into Israel.

During his inspections in these settlements near Gaza, the Israeli premier met with the soldiers stationed there.

Netanyahu shared images of his visit on the social media platform X, with the caption: "We are on the front lines with our warriors on the Gaza Strip border. We are all ready."

According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Netanyahu said, "Are you prepared for the next phase? The next phase is approaching," while speaking with the soldiers.

Netanyahu's statements suggest that the Israeli army, which has been conducting significant deployments and troop buildup along the Gaza border for days, is gearing up for a ground operation.

In a dramatic escalation of Mideast tensions, a week ago Israeli forces launched a sustained and forceful military campaign against the Gaza Strip, a response to a military offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas in Israeli territories.

The conflict began last Saturday when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.

Hamas said the operation was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.

The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.

Israel's response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has reeled under a crippling siege since 2007.

Over 3,500 people have been killed since the outbreak of the conflict on Oct. 7, including 2,215 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis.

*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala

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