Two soldiers injured as IDF operates in Gaza

This is the next stage of the war against Hamas, says army, as airstrikes also hit 450 military targets over the last day.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An IDF officer was badly wounded and a soldier moderately wounded Saturday night during different operations against terrorists in the Gaza Strip, in a war the military says is being executed in “stages.”

The officer was hit by a mortar shell fired at IDF forces that had entered the northern part of the coastal enclave to destroy enemy position.

The solder was wounded in a different clash with terrorists in the same general area, who had tried to attack his unit.

Both were taken to hospital in Israel and their families have been informed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference Saturday night in which he announced that “additional ground forces entered Gaza, marking the beginning of the second stage of the war, whose goal is to destroy the military and political capabilities of Hamas and to bring our kidnapped citizens back.”

Unlike previous forays last week, in which tanks went in, shelled Hamas military positions and infrastructure and then left, IDF forces were still fighting this morning against terrorist squads. Channel 12 reported that some 20 Arab fighters were liquidated when they exited a tunnel in northern Gaza and attempted to attack the Israeli soldiers.

Others were killed while trying to hit the IDF forces with anti-tank fire and direct unmanned aerial vehicles against them.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, chief spokesman for the IDF, said Sunday morning that the IDF has enlarged its operations.

“During the night, we expanded the entry of IDF forces into the Gaza Strip and they joined the forces already fighting [there]. We are progressing in the stages of the war according to plan.”

“The ground activity is complex and dangerous,” he added, “and we will do everything to ensure the safety of our troops from the air, sea and land.”

When talking of the current ground incursion Saturday night, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi noted that “Achievements demand risks and, as we know, every victory comes at a price. In order to expose and destroy the enemy, there is no other way than to enter its territory with force. This action serves all the purposes of the war.”

Israel also continued its aerial bombardment of military sites throughout the Strip, striking more than 450 targets in the last 24 hours. These included various military headquarters, observation posts and anti-tank firing positions, the army said.

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Egypt has reportedly warned Israel to keep its fire away from the Philadelphia corridor that is on its border with the Gaza Strip.