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Gaza will become a ‘tent city’, an Israeli defense official has vowed, promising to raze every building to the ground in revenge for Hamas‘ terror attacks at the weekend as the military forms up on the border ahead of an expected invasion.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Israeli forces conducted 250 airstrikes in just one hour across northern and eastern parts of the Gaza strip to pave the way for a massive ground operation. 

Now, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Jonathan Conricus said the outfit is sending ‘infantry, armoured soldiers, artillery corps’, plus 300,000 reservists ‘close to the Gaza Strip to execute the mission that we have been given by the Israeli government’.

‘That is to make sure that Hamas at the end of this war won’t have any military capabilities by which they can threaten or kill Israeli civilians,’ he said, as Israelis living close to the border began evacuations. 

Meanwhile, Border Guard forces engaged in a gun battle with Hamas terrorists in the southern city of Sderot this morning, three days after the Palestinian militant group launched its surprise attacks on the Jewish state.

The fire-fight broke out at 6pm last night as Israeli forces continued their ‘mopping up’ operation in the south of the country. A series of rocket salvos from Gaza also hit Sderot Wednesday morning, injuring at least one civilian and damaging five buildings.

Elsewhere, IDF troops backed by helicopters and drones also fought bitter gunbattles with another Hamas contingent in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon late Tuesday, hours after the territory was hit in a Hamas rocket attack.

And three Israeli soldiers were killed in a confrontation with ‘terrorist infiltrators’ to the north on the frontier with Lebanon, where Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters and elements of Lebanon’s Hezbollah had launched a smattering of attacks. 

As dawn broke on Wednesday, more airstrikes were launched on Gaza

Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the Sousi mosque in Gaza City

Palestinians are seen picking through the rubble in Gaza after Israeli airstrikes 

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a municipality building after Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis on Tuesday

In Israel, the death toll from Saturday’s shock cross-border assault by Hamas militants rose to 1,200, making it the deadliest attack in the country’s 75-year history, while Gaza officials reported more than 900 people killed as Israel pounded the territory with air strikes.

One key target was the al-Furqan neighborhood – so named after a mosque in the area – which defense officials said is a ‘nest of terror’ used by Hamas to launch attacks against Israel. 

Hamas said two of its top officials had been killed, while Israel’s military said the bodies of roughly 1,500 Hamas infiltrators had been found.

Swathes of the densely-populated Gaza have already been reduced to rubble, photos emerging on Tuesday showed.

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, said he has ‘released all restraints’ on the troops in their fight against Hamas.

‘Hamas wanted a change and it will get one. What was in Gaza will no longer be,’ he said, speaking to soldiers near the Gaza fence.

‘We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground. We’ve been controlling the area since Day Two and we are on the offensive. It will only intensify.’

Gallant promised to show no mercy to the terrorists.

‘Whoever comes to decapitate, murder women, Holocaust survivors — we will eliminate him at the height of our power and without compromise.’

The airstrikes came as: 

A total siege of Gaza was ordered by Gallant, while the United Nations seeks a humanitarian corridor for civilians, food and aid
Large crowds gathered at Gaza’s crossing into Egypt, which has been closed since Monday  
The death toll from the weekend’s attacks rose to 1,200 Israelis. American officials confirmed 14 U.S. citizens were among the dead, and 20 missing
The list of dead and missing included citizens of Britain, France, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and many other nations
Israel has called up an unprecedented 300,000 reservists: Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has vowed to deliver a decisive blow against Hamas 

Israel was facing attack from the north and west too, with rockets launched from Syria into Israeli territory on Tuesday, and from Lebanon. No one was injured in the attacks on Tuesday.

The strikes came as the barbarity of Hamas’ attacks on Israel was becoming apparent, with ever-more savage behavior being described.

The death toll among Israelis rose to 1,200, with an unknown number missing, many believed to be being held hostage. Twenty Americans are believed to be among those missing, and 14 are confirmed dead.

At the Be’eri kibbutz, 100 people – 10 percent of the population – were murdered.

David Ben Zion, Deputy Commander of Unit 71, told i24News that he had seen victims decapitated, including children.

David Ben Zion, Deputy Commander of Unit 71, told i24News that he had seen victims decapitated, including children

Gunshots and blood stains are seen on a door and walls of a house where civilians were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza on Tuesday

A baby’s seat and child’s dress is seen covered in blood in the aftermath of a Hamas attack 

Hamas terrorists beheaded babies and gunned down entire families in their homes in a small kibbutz in Israel, Israeli soldiers have claimed

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a compatriot, killed during an attack by Hamas terrorists in Kfar Aza, on Tuesday

‘We went door after door, we killed a lot of the terrorists,’ he said.

‘We are stronger than them. They are aggressive, they are very bad.

‘They cut heads off children, cut heads off women. But we are stronger than them.’

Harrowing images from the scene at Kfar Aza kibbutz showed a baby’s cot covered with blood; her small bloodied dress lying next to it.

The Israeli soldiers were seen comforting each other after witnessing such horrors, including the bodies of entire families who were gunned down in their beds.

‘You see the babies, the mothers, the fathers, in their bedrooms, in their protection rooms and how the terrorist kills them,’ said Israeli Major General Itai Veruv.

‘It’s not a war, it’s not a battlefield. It’s a massacre, it’s a terror activity.

‘It is something that I never saw in my life. It’s something that we used to imagine from our grandfathers, grandmothers in the pogrom in Europe and other places. It’s not something that happens in new history.’

Veruv said his soldiers spent ‘about 48 hours’ fighting ‘waves and waves of terrorists’ on roads and in neighboring communities.

Joe Biden called it ‘an act of sheer evil’, and said it was reminiscent of ‘the worst rampages of ISIS.’

U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, makes remarks after speaking by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Biden was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and senior security officials for a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Situation Room before delivering his speech

People mourn at the graveside of Eden Guez, who was killed a festival that was attacked by Hamas gunmen that left at least 260 people dead, at her funeral in Ashkelon, in southern Israel

He pledged that the US would make sure Israel has the tools it needs to defend itself: he has dispatched the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford and five guided-missile cruisers and destroyers to the scene, and they arrived on Tuesday.

Biden said the U.S. has ‘enhanced our military force posture’ in the region and is surging military assistance to Israel.

Biden also spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on Tuesday, for the third time.

Gaza’s health ministry said at least 900 people have been killed and 4,600 wounded in the crowded coastal enclave.

Aid agencies were urging Israel to open humanitarian corridors to allow in food and medical supplies.

Israel said it will cut off food and fuel to the territory.

Palestinian media said Israeli airstrikes hit homes in Gaza City, the southern city of Khan Younis and in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

One home struck belonged to the father of Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza, reports said. Deif’s brother and other family members were killed, according to the reports.

Residents appealing for help on social media said many buildings had collapsed, sometimes trapping as many as 50 people inside with rescue workers unable to reach them.

Rockets fired from the Gaza City (R) being intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense missile system (L) on Tuesday

Rockets fired from Gaza are seen being intercepted by the Iron Dome protection system

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip overnight on Tuesday

The United Nations said more than 180,000 Gazans had been made homeless, many huddling on streets or in schools.

At the morgue in Gaza’s Khan Younis hospital, bodies lay on the ground on stretchers with names written on their bellies. Medics called for relatives to pick up bodies quickly because there was no more space for the dead.

A municipal building was hit while being used as an emergency shelter. Survivors there spoke of many dead.

‘No place is safe in Gaza, as you see they hit everywhere,’ said Ala Abu Tair, 35, who had sought shelter there with his family after fleeing Abassan Al-Kabira near the border.

Two members of Hamas’ political office, Jawad Abu Shammala and Zakaria Abu Maamar, were killed in an air strike in Khan Younis, a Hamas official said.

They were the first senior Hamas members killed since Israel began pounding the enclave.

Israel said Abu Shammala had led a number of operations targeting Israeli civilians.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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