ISRAEL’s prime minister this afternoon vowed to “exterminate the bloody monsters” who unleashed hell on his country.
Israel’s military says it has Gaza surrounded, while Hamas is reportedly blocking terrified residents from escaping the bomb-blitzed enclave.
As the ground offensive looms ever-nearer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israeli troops “are ready to act at any moment, to exterminate the bloody monsters that rose up against us.”
“Hamas thought we would break up – we will break up Hamas,” he raged.
This morning, Israel’s military announced it had surrounded the Gaza Strip – but its plans to launch a “coordinated” attack have been delayed due to bad weather.
Tens of thousands of its soldiers and tanks massing on the border are “ready” for what the military has described as a significant combined operation by land, air, and sea.
Israeli army spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said its forces had Gaza surrounded with troops now “in formation… all around the Gaza Strip, in the south, in the centre and the north.”
However, senior IDF officials today revealed their plans have been delayed.
The ground invasion should have begun already but continues to be postponed due to bad weather preventing aerial cover, sources told The New York Times,
The officials also shared unclassified battle plans that included capturing Gaza City, wiping out the entirety of Hamas leadership, and conducting a possible 18-month campaign to root out any remaining terrorists.
The assault is expected to be Israel’s largest since they invaded Lebanon in 2006 and their first attempt to capture and hold onto land since their invasion of Gaza in 2008.
Meanwhile, the IDF accused Hamas of “stopping civilians trying to flee” and using them as “human shields” against Israeli airstrikes.
IDF spokesman, Jonathan Conricus said: “If that isn’t the most sinister and vile use of civilians during war, I don’t know what is.”
Since Friday, there have been continued reports that Hamas dismissed Israel’s countdown to flee as “fake propaganda” and has been ordering civilians to stay put.
Israeli air strikes continued to hammer the Gaza Strip last night after the deadline passed for citizens to get out ahead of Israel‘s impending ground invasion.
At least 2,329 Palestinians have so far been killed during the retaliatory bombardment of densely-populated Gaza, including 600 children.
The IDF told Palestinians in northern Gaza that the route to safety would not be targeted if they left by 1 pm (11 am BST) today.
It comes as Israel made the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, 60 – their number one target, vowing to find him wherever he is hiding.
Sinwar – who spent 24 years in Israeli prisons – is being held accountable for the slaughter of 1,300 Israelis after masterminding and leading last weekend’s cross-border massacre.
“Yahya Sinwar is the face of evil,” said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht.
“He is the mastermind behind this like bin Laden was.
“He built his career on murdering Palestinians when he understood they were collaborators. That’s how he became known as the butcher of [southern Gaza].”
Over 360,000 reservists have been called up to bolster Israel’s 130,000-strong regular army that is preparing to crush Hamas’s strongholds
IDF says it killed Hamas commander in airstrike
Israel’s Defence Force (IDF) says it has killed a commander of the Hamas militant group in an airstrike.
In a statement, the IDF said Matez Eid, commander of the southern district of Hamas’s national security wing, was targeted using “precise intelligence”.
Israel’s military said it attacked 250 military targets in Gaza today, most of them in the north.