Israeli infantry made their first raids into the Gaza Strip on Friday since Hamas fighters rampaged through southern Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a campaign of retaliation had only just begun.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday visited Israeli defense forces outside the Gaza Strip, his office said in a statement. Netanyahu told the defense personnel, “You ready for the next stage? The next stage is coming.”
“We are striking our enemies with unprecedented might,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement which, unusually, was televised after the Jewish Sabbath had begun. “I emphasise that this is only the beginning.”
According to Al Jazeera report, the Israeli Defense Forces have said that they are preparing for an operation in Gaza by ‘air, water, land’. This comes as Israel announced a six-hour evacuation window between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday for Gaza civilians to move to Southern Gaza. triggering speculations of an impending ground attack.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it received an order from Israeli forces earlier in the day with a deadline to evacuate its Al Quds hospital. It was later extended from the initial time of 6am Saturday but the hospital could not be evacuated safely and it was obliged to continue caring for the sick and wounded, it said.
Palestinians struggled Saturday to flee from areas of Gaza targeted by the Israeli military while grappling with a growing water crisis after Israel stopped the flow of resources to the region ahead of an expected land offensive a week after Hamas’ bloody, wide-ranging attack into Israel.
Israel renewed calls on social media and in leaflets dropped from the air for Gaza residents to move south, while Hamas urged people to stay in their homes.
‘2 Hamas commanders who led attack killed’
Israel’s military said on Saturday it killed two Hamas commanders who were behind the cross-border deadly rampage into Israel a week ago. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Saturday that it has killed Merad Abu Merad, who was the head of the Hamas aerial system, and Ali Qadi, a company commander of a commando force.
As per the information shared by IDF, Ali Qadi, a company commander in the Nukhba unit, was killed in a drone strike following intelligence inputs. The IDF said Qadi was arrested by Israel in 2005 over the kidnapping and murder of Israeli civilians and had been released to the Gaza Strip as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.
Islamic nations’ group calls ‘urgent, extraordinary’ meet
A top grouping of Islamic nations has called an “urgent extraordinary meeting” in Saudi Arabia to discuss the Israel-Gaza war. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) seeks to address the “military escalation” and “threat to defenceless civilians in Gaza”.
Saudi Arabia, which chairs the current session of the Islamic Summit, has invited the member nations for the meeting to be held in Jeddah on Wednesday.
“At the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia… the Organisation’s Executive Committee is convening an urgent open-ended extraordinary meeting at the ministerial level, to address the escalating military situation in Gaza …,” the OIC said in a statement on its website.