NEWS

Israeli Military Says Troops Conducted Ground Operation in Gaza Strip

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Latest developments:

  • As Israel’s military confirms a single ground raid to strike “numerous terror cells, infrastructure” in Gaza, Netanyahu says Israel “preparing for a ground invasion.”
  • Biden expresses concern about hostages held by Hamas
  • About 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians in the initial Hamas attack on Oct. 7.
  • The Palestinian Health Ministry, controlled by Hamas, says the death toll in Gaza had reached at least 6,546 people, the majority women and children, a number that some U.S. and Israeli officials question.

Israel’s military said Thursday it carried out a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, where for nearly three weeks Israeli forces have been conducting airstrikes targeting Hamas militants.

The Israel Defense Forces said its tanks and infantry “struck numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts” before returning to Israeli territory.

The IDF said the operation was done to prepare “for the next stages of combat.”

Israeli officials have pledged to ensure Hamas can no longer carry out attacks that threaten Israel following the Oct. 7 attack by the militant group that killed about 1,400 people.

The Israeli military has called up 300,000 reservists and stationed troops near the Gaza border ahead of an expected ground offensive.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a televised statement Wednesday, said Israel was “preparing for a ground invasion. I will not elaborate on when, how or how many.”

U.S. President Joe Biden voiced support Wednesday for what now seems like a distant goal — the long-sought U.S. wish for separate, autonomous Israeli and Palestinian states.

Biden said at a White House news conference that “the aspirations of Palestinians cannot be ignored. Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live side by side in safety, dignity and peace.”

The U.S. leader said he is alarmed by “extremist settlers” attacking Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He called it “pouring gasoline on fire,” and said the settlers are “attacking Palestinians in places they’re entitled to be.” Biden also expressed concern for the safety of more than 200 hostages, some of them believed to be Americans, captured by Hamas during Oct. 7 attack.

“Obviously they’re in jeopardy,” Biden said. “If we can get them out, we should.”

Hamas has released four hostages in recent days, an American woman and her daughter and two elderly Israeli women. But the U.S. State Department warned in a statement of how difficult the release of more will be.

“You can imagine how complicated it is,” the statement said. “We’re dealing with Israel, Egypt, and Hamas, and we’re not talking directly to Hamas. Egypt can send messages to Hamas. Qatar can send messages to Hamas. But you can imagine how difficult every little thing is. Every bit of this is complicated.

“It’s like unlocking a puzzle where you unlock a layer that can unlock one little piece of it,” the State Department added. “And then another obstacle pops up, and you’ve got to go figure out with all the parties, how to unlock that piece.”

The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry said Wednesday the death toll in Gaza had reached at least 6,546 people, the majority of them women and children.

But Biden said he has “no confidence in the Hamas death toll.”

“I have no notion that Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” Biden said. “I’m sure innocents have been killed. And that’s the price of waging a war.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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