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Israel Gears Up for Major Offensive on Gaza Border as Netanyahu Pledges to “destroy Hamas”

Israel Gears Up for Major Offensive on Gaza Border as Netanyahu Pledges to "destroy Hamas"
Near the Israel-Gaza border on October 15, 2023, a mobile artillery unit of the Israeli military launched a projectile from southern Israel into the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “destroy Hamas” during a war cabinet meeting. Meanwhile, Israeli forces massed on the Israel-Canada border in preparation for a possible invasion;

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdullah on Sunday – Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and plans to return to Israel on Monday;

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will begin evacuating U.S. nationals from Haifa to Cyprus by sea;

An IDF spokesman said Mas blocks civilian evacuation from northern Gaza;

President Biden spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza, the White House said.

As 300,000 Israeli troops gathered on the border between Israel and Gaza, ready to enter Gaza from the ground at any time to search for and attack Hamas militants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday (October 15) to “destroy” Hamas”.

Netanyahu convened an emergency wartime cabinet meeting for the first time and invited opposition lawmaker Benny Gantz to the meeting to show what Netanyahu said was national unity.

At the meeting at the Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said all Israeli leaders were “working day and night as a united front.”

Ministers in attendance stood for a moment of silence in memory of the 1,300 Israelis killed in a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7. Hundreds of subsequent Israeli air and missile attacks on Gaza also killed approximately 1,900 Palestinians.

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“Hamas thought we would be annihilated,” Netanyahu said. “We are the ones who want to destroy Hamas.” He said that the political unity displayed by Israel “sends a clear message to the country, its enemies, and the world.”

The meeting of Israeli leaders came as the U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Blinken would return to Israel on Monday for further discussions after visiting the country last week. Blinken, America’s most senior diplomat, has visited seven countries in the Middle East in recent days, including a trip to Egypt on Sunday, to work with Arab allies to prevent the Israel-Kazakhstan war from spiraling out of control.

Israeli officials on Sunday continued to ask people living in the northern half of Gaza to evacuate to southern Gaza along a narrow road along the Mediterranean coast. On this road appeared chaotic convoys and parents holding their children and carrying their life’s belongings, walking towards an unpredictable future.

“We want people to go to the south,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.

Even at the border, where Israel is holding troops, a ground invasion is likely and has cut off food, water, electricity, and medical supplies to Gaza. After the supply, Hamas still called on people to stay at home and not go out.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told “State of the Union” that Israel had assured him that water supplies to the southern half of Gaza had been restored.

The conflict has killed 29 Americans and left 15 missing.

Sullivan said finding and rescuing American hostages believed to be held by Hamas is President Joe Biden’s “highest priority.”

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However, Sullivan admitted that the United States does not know “where these people are or who they are.” He told ABC’s “This Week” talk show that some of the missing Americans may have been killed.

Sullivan noted that the United States was working “through third countries” to try to secure the release of American hostages, but did not provide further details.

Sullivan said the United States has asked Egypt to allow Americans to flee Gaza into Egypt, but Hamas has blocked U.S. efforts to do so at the Rafah crossing.

Egypt told the United States it was receiving so many requests to evacuate its citizens that it was having difficulty complying with requests for American citizens to evacuate, two Egyptian officials said. Egypt also cannot allow citizens of one country to leave early before citizens of other countries. The officials also spoke of security concerns arising from the inability to conduct background checks on everyone.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is intensifying as Palestinians rush to retreat from northern Gaza to the south ahead of an impending Israeli ground assault.

A White House statement said U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reiterated the U.S.’s “unwavering” support for Israel and its support for anyone “seeking to expand the conflict.” people issued warnings. Biden also briefed Netanyahu on U.S. military support for Israel.

Later on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the United States was sending a second strike group led by the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean, joining several The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group arrived there days ago.

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“The increased deployment of U.S. troops demonstrates America’s steely commitment to Israel’s security and our determination to deter any state or non-state group seeking to escalate this war,” Austin said in a statement.

Also on Saturday, Russia asked the United Nations Security Council to vote on Monday on a draft resolution on the Israel-Kazakhstan conflict that calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and condemns violence against civilians and all forms of terrorism.

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