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Netanyahu declares ‘next stage is coming’ as Israel prepares for Gaza offensive


Netanyahu declares ‘next stage is coming’ as Israel prepares for Gaza offensive


enjamin Netanyahu has told his troops ‘the next stage is coming’ as his forces massed on the Gaza border.

In a video clip showing him addressing soldiers stationed near the Israeli border with Gaza, Netanyahu can be seen asking IDF soldiers if they are ready for the “next stage”.

His words on Saturday came as he visited some of the communities attacked in last week’s Hamas bloodbath which are are close to the border with Gaza.

The prime minister spoke to in Kibbutzes Be’eri and Kfar Aza, and “walked between the ruins of the houses where these terrible massacres took place” a statement from his office said.

Telling the men that “the next stage is coming,” Netanyahu appeared to be confirming that a found offensive was looming. He then posted: “Make no mistake Israel will win”, next to an Israeli flag.

Israel has amassed thousands of troops, tanks, and artillery units around the borders of Gaza and yesterday the IDF confirmed that ground forces had launched operations into the territory to retrieve the bodies and personal items of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas.

The Israeli Defense Forces released a statement saying their troops are preparing to expand their operations on the ground.

“IDF is gearing up for a comprehensive offensive” with the help of hundreds of thousands of reserve personnel, it said.

It said they plan an attack “involving air, sea, and land” forces.

“Essential combat equipment has already been dispatched” to the relevant locations, and the “IDF battalions and soldiers are strategically deployed across the country” it added.

It said the soldiers have “a strong emphasis on a substantial ground operation”.

The Israeli military also confirmed that some dead bodies of hostages had been found on the edge of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile the deadline given by Isreal to Gaza residents to evacuate parts of the strip has passed. Hundreds of thousand of civilians were fleeing the zone ahead of what is expected to be the deployment of Israeli troops on the territory.

Israel has dropped thousands of bombs since Hamas slaughtered more than 1,000 Israelis after an attack last Saturday. Harrowing images have been released by Israel of dead babies and families as Hamas gunmen rampaged through parts of Southern Israel.

The ensuing bombing campaign by Israel has claimed more than 2,000 lives, according to the Palestinian Authority. With Gaza blockaded by Israel the territory has no power and water and telecommunications have been cut off amid the carnage.

There were deaths as a group fleeing from the area of Gaza near the Israeli border died in an explosion. Hamas says the explosion was from an Israeli air strike. The IDF said it was investigating the allegation.

The UN has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said the situation in Gaza was “fast becoming untenable.”

He added: “People are inching their way south along congested, damaged roads, following an evacuation order by Israel. I fear that the worst is yet to come,” he added. “Humanity is failing.”

Amid the scramble to get supplies into Gaza at least five planes carrying humanitarian relief have arrived in Egypt’s Sinai, the Red Cross officials said.

The World Health Organization said a plane carrying trauma medicines and health supplies had also landed. Hospitals in Gaza have been running out of equipment and medicines, warning that patients are dying because of the Israeli bombing and the blockade.

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