Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Tuesday that the Israel Defense Forces is moving to a “full offense” against the Gaza Strip, as sporadic clashes with Hamas terrorists in southern Israel continued for the fourth day.
“I have released all the restraints, we have [regained] control of the area, and we are moving to a full offense,” Gallant said in an address to troops along the Gaza border.
“You will have the ability to change the reality here. You have seen the prices [being paid], and you will get to see the change. Hamas wanted a change in Gaza; it will change 180 degrees from what it thought,” he said.
“They will regret this moment, Gaza will never go back to what it was,” Gallant continued. “Whoever comes to decapitate, murder women, Holocaust survivors, we will eliminate him with all our might, and without compromise.”
An Egyptian official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that Cairo has been informed by Israel that it is readying for a monthslong ground campaign in Gaza.
The official said Israel has thus far dismissed Egypt’s efforts to mediate any sort of deescalation, indicating that it wants to deal a knockout blow to Hamas before entertaining the idea of a ceasefire.
Gallant also made a reference to the potential of several months of fighting, saying that “we will return here, to Be’eri, in a few months, and the situation will be different. We will resettle the kibbutz until its last meter.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told US President Joe Biden on Monday that Israel has no choice but to launch a ground operation against Hamas in Gaza.
“We have to go in. We can’t negotiate now,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying by the Axios news site. “We need to restore deterrence.” According to the report, which cited three US and Israeli sources, Biden did not try to change Netanyahu’s mind.
Speaking not long after Gallant on Tuesday, the IDF’s top spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said that killing senior Hamas members is a top priority.
“We will not stop the effort to eliminate senior Hamas officials, this is a top priority,” Hagari said in a press conference, after Israeli strikes killed two senior Hamas members Monday night.
He said troops are still scanning for terrorists in southern Israel, following the initial Hamas invasion on Saturday morning.
Throughout Tuesday, he said, a terrorist was killed near Sa’ad, four terrorists were killed near Zikim, two terrorists were killed near Mefalsim, and another two were killed near Re’im.
“The directive to the forces is clear. Find terrorists and destroy them,” Hagari said. “We are making a strong defense on the border. There were infiltration attempts today, but the terrorists were eliminated before they reached the fence.”
Hagari also said the bodies of 103 terrorists were found in Kibbutz Be’eri alone, after they were killed in clashes with troops. More than 100 Israelis were murdered by the terrorists in the kibbutz.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.