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Fears of a ground invasion of Gaza increase as Israel pledges 'mighty vengeance.'

Fears of a ground invasion of Gaza increase as Israel pledges 'mighty vengeance.'

The Israeli armed forces are engaged in ongoing clashes with Hamas in certain areas of southern Israel following an attack launched by the latter.


Concerns of a significant ground incursion into Gaza are on the rise following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to transform the besieged Palestinian enclave into an "isolated island" in response to the most severe attack his country has experienced in decades.


This commitment came after Hamas militants, governing Gaza, conducted a violent incursion into Israeli towns, resulting in the deaths of at least 250 people on Saturday, including soldier and civilian hostages. It marked the deadliest day of violence for Israel since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago.


In retaliation, the Israeli military launched devastating strikes on Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 230 Palestinians in the blockaded region. As of the early hours of Sunday, Israeli forces were still conducting airstrikes on Gaza and engaging in combat with Hamas fighters in parts of southern Israel. A military spokesperson acknowledged that the situation in the country was not entirely under control.


Hamas stated that its unprecedented offensive, involving land, air, and sea operations, was in response to the desecration of the Al Aqsa Mosque, as well as Israeli actions against Palestinians over the years. These actions include the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli incursions into West Bank cities in the past year, increased attacks by settlers on Palestinians, and the expansion of illegal settlements.


Mohammed Deif, a senior Hamas military commander, emphasized that it was time for the "enemy to understand... they cannot act without facing consequences." Hamas leaders indicated that the offensive initiated in Gaza would extend to the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.


Netanyahu, who declared a "state of war" and summoned military reservists, vowed to confront Hamas relentlessly. In a televised address, he urged the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, who are under an Israeli land, air, and sea blockade, to evacuate the territory immediately.

We will exact a powerful retribution for this dark day, the Israeli leader stated. We will avenge all the young lives lost. We will target all of Hamas's positions. We will transform Gaza into an isolated island. To the residents of Gaza, I say: You must depart now. We will target every corner of the strip.


Kill and capture

Kill and capture

In Gaza, residents endured a night of darkness and uncertainty as Israel severed power to the area and escalated its bombardment of the densely populated enclave. The airstrikes leveled residential buildings in massive explosions, including a 14-story tower housing numerous apartments and Hamas offices in central Gaza City.


Around 3 am local time (00:00 GMT), a mosque's loudspeaker in Gaza City broadcasted a stark warning to residents in nearby apartment buildings: Immediate evacuation was advised. Mere minutes later, an Israeli airstrike reduced a five-story building to rubble.


Gaza's inhabitants transported their deceased and injured to crumbling and overcrowded hospitals facing severe shortages of medical supplies and equipment. The health ministry reported 232 fatalities and at least 1,700 wounded.


Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chief of Hamas's political bureau, informed Al Jazeera that Hamas held a significant number of Israeli captives, including senior military figures. He asserted that Hamas possessed enough captives to secure the release of all Palestinians in Israeli jails.


"We succeeded in eliminating and capturing numerous Israeli soldiers," he stated.


While global leaders called for restraint, many observers anticipated a substantial ground assault on Gaza was likely imminent.


"There will be a follow-up action—an invasion of Gaza, possibly larger in scale than the 2014 operation when Israel called up 80,000 reserves," predicted Yonah Jeremy Bob, a military analyst for the Jerusalem Post. "Within a day or two, Israel will assemble a formidable force capable of overpowering Hamas in Gaza."


Danny Danon, a member of Israel's parliament, affirmed that a response against Hamas was forthcoming. He emphasized that Israel had no intention of harming civilians but would be relentless in its pursuit of Hamas.


"We will not remain passive after over 200 Israeli civilians were tragically killed today on our Jewish holiday," Danon told Al Jazeera.


In southern Israel, residents were still awaiting clearance to leave shelters where they had sought refuge since the early hours. In Sderot, Israeli forces were working to dismantle a police station that had been seized by Palestinian fighters earlier in the day.


"It appears that Israeli forces are attempting to clear the building to mitigate potential booby traps. It remains unclear whether any gunmen are still inside," reported Al Jazeera's Willem Marx from West Jerusalem. "The Israeli military has indicated that all options are on the table, including the possibility of a ground invasion of Gaza. Large numbers of reservists, numbering in the thousands, have been mobilized, and a substantial amount of heavy weaponry, including tanks, has been observed on roads heading south toward Gaza.

World is watching

World is watching

United States President Joe Biden condemned the "unconscionable" attack by Hamas militants and affirmed his commitment to ensuring that Israel has the necessary means to defend itself. He conveyed his unwavering support for Israeli security, emphasizing that Israel has the right to protect its citizens without exception.

President Biden also issued a warning to Israel's adversaries, urging them not to exploit the situation for their benefit, emphasizing that the world is closely monitoring the events.


Egypt is engaged in discussions with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, aiming to ease tensions between Palestinians and Israelis, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry.


Throughout the Middle East, demonstrations in support of Hamas were observed, with some protesters burning Israeli and US flags, while others waved Palestinian flags in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.


In Iran, a longstanding adversary of Israel, members of parliament initiated their session by chanting slogans such as "Death to Israel" and "Israel's demise, Palestine's victory." Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, commented that the operation marked a new chapter in the resistance against occupiers.


In Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, hundreds of individuals took to the streets to celebrate the Hamas operation.


Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada website, attributed the violence on Saturday to 80 years of Israeli oppression and what he described as "massacres" in Palestine. He highlighted the just struggle of the Palestinian people for their liberation, stating that an indigenous population fighting for its survival would vigorously resist after decades of enduring the brutality of the colonial regime.


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