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On Thursday night, the Israel Defense Forces started gathering ground forces near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, preparing for what looked like a ground assault into the area from where Hamas has launched myriad rockets attacking the Jewish state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated the campaign against Hamas was far from over, adding that Israel “would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. We are doing so and we will continue to do so with great force. The last word has not been said and this operation will continue as long as necessary in order to restore the quiet and security to the State of Israel.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called up 9,000 reserve soldiers. Israel Defense Forces even issued a tweet stating, “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.”
IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 13, 2021
“Some armored and infantry battalions joined the artillery batteries that had been deployed days earlier to pound Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets,” The Jerusalem Post reported, adding, “The foreign media jumped at the tweet, interpreting it to mean that Israel was sending ground forces into Gaza, a major escalation in the current operation and a sign that it was far from over.”
Israeli troops have entered the Gaza Strip as conflict with Palestinians escalates, Israeli military says https://t.co/Rc9VG9ImE0
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 13, 2021
Voice of America reported, “In response to the buildup, Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida said the group was not afraid of a ground invasion, saying any invasion would be a chance ‘to increase our catch’ of dead or captive soldiers, according to The Associated Press.”
But all the rhetoric from Israeli officials and the build-up of ground forces was a tactical deception. The news that Israel was commencing a ground assault reportedly provoked Hamas to send its anti-tank missile teams and mortar squads that were set to attack Israeli forces into what the IDF refers to as Hamas’ “Metro,” a network of underground tunnels built by Hamas after the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas where Hamas moved its terrorists and stored weapons.
After the ruse had been set up, Israel bombed the tunnels.
“In a 40-minute long air campaign which began around midnight, some 160 aircraft dropped over 450 missiles on 150 targets belonging to a network of tunnels dug by the terror group known as ‘the Metro’ under Gaza city,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
The Jerusalem Post stated that Hamas has fired roughly 2,000 rockets and mortars into Israel; 220 more were fired between Thursday night and Friday morning; 30 landed in Gaza itself. “Hamas rockets intended for Israel fell short and took out three electricity lines, cutting off 250,000 people from electricity. The lines were among 10 provided by Israel to help increase Gaza’s electricity supply,” The Jerusalem Post added.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, noting that Israel must deal with the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza as well as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, said in 2020, “We face various terror armies … We may face a two- or three-front war — active areas or theaters simultaneously against different enemies and capabilities. We must address that. We want to shorten the time of combat for higher achievement on [the] battlefield at smaller cost for IDF and civilians. Think of a triangle, with sides of time and achievement and cost. Imagine we want that to be small with achievement being high. … The environment is changing. We have a necessity to understand changes and address it in training, equipment, doctrine, manpower and material.”