“Whoever sees Gaza from afar now, will see it from the inside,” says Israel defence minister as he orders to prepare for invasion.
Israel’s defense minister Thursday told troops to prepare for an invasion of the Gaza Strip, which would mark a major escalation in its fight against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Meeting with infantry on the Gaza border Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reportedly told the forces to “get organized” and “be ready” for an order to move in.
“Whoever sees Gaza from afar now, will see it from the inside,” he said, per the AP.
“I promise you.” Gallant told troops the “order will come,” state news agency The Times of Israel reported.
Such an operation would pose a huge threat to civilians who remain in northern Gaza, as well as major risks for Israeli leaders.
President Biden this week warned Israel’s government not to allow its anger toward Hamas to force costly mistakes, like those committed by the U.S. after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“You can’t look at what has happened here … and not scream out for justice,” Biden said while in Israel.
“Justice must be done. But I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11 we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.”
Biden also specifically warned against the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip during an interview earlier in the week.
The threat of a ground attack has loomed for almost a week since Israel ordered the evacuation of more than 1.1 million Palestinians from the northern Gaza Strip to the south.
However, the United Nations warned that such a large-scale evacuation was impossible without dramatic human costs, and Hamas has told residents not to leave and to stay in their homes.
Tens of thousands of Israeli troops have remained positioned along the Gaza border this week, with Hamas reportedly fortifying its defenses on the other side.
The evacuation came as part of Israel’s larger counteroffensive in Gaza after Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S., carried out a massacre that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, including hundreds of civilians.
Israeli forces quickly responded by bombarding Gaza with hundreds of airstrikes that have so far killed more than 3,400 Palestinians and injured more than 12,000 others, the Gaza Health Ministry reported Thursday.
The United States has largely supported Israel’s push to eliminate Hamas in response to the unprecedented attack, despite Biden’s warnings.
The attacks, coupled with Israel’s siege on food, water, electricity, medicine and fuel, have intensified Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, with residents already running low on basic necessities.
Multiple humanitarian organizations condemned Israel’s Gaza evacuation, arguing it is a “death sentence” for the sick and injured in hospitals in the territory.
Biden visited Israel this week amid growing pressure to address the crisis.
He promised to stand with Israel, while also announcing an agreement to allow humanitarian aid to move from Egypt to Gaza, as well as committing $100 million in U.S. funding to assist those living in Gaza and the West Bank.
Trucks with aid had waited for days at the Rafah crossing – Gaza’s only connection to Egypt – after Israeli airstrikes closed off access last week.