Following the expiration of a truce with Hamas, Israel has initiated offensive operations in Gaza, with a focus on southern regions of the strip, as confirmed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday.
The IDF reported that ground, air, and naval forces have targeted terror-related sites in both the north and south of the Gaza Strip, including locations in Khan Yunis and Rafah. Since 7 a.m. local time, more than 200 targets have been struck, encompassing areas rigged with explosives, terror tunnel entrances, launch sites, and operational command centers identified by Hamas for renewed hostilities.
Israel War Cabinet member and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, in a video statement, emphasized that Israel had prepared to broaden its scope to secure the release of remaining hostages. Gantz, who, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, formed an emergency unity government after the October 7 attacks, stated, “We came back and are carrying this out.” He underscored the commitment to returning hostages and eliminating the threat posed by Hamas.
Gantz expressed his thoughts for those who have not yet returned and highlighted that the ongoing military actions aim to secure their release. He stated, “This victory also foremost includes the effort to return the hostages, as well as eliminating the threat from Hamas.”
In an effort to minimize civilian casualties, the IDF released an interactive map delineating Gaza into numbered districts, designating “evacuation zones” for use in the “next stage of the war.” The military dropped leaflets in Khan Younis, branding it a “fighting zone” and urging residents to evacuate. The leaflets included a QR code linking to a map, although challenges with telecommunication and power infrastructure in Gaza have limited residents’ access to the internet.