On Friday, Israeli tanks and other ground units deployed along Israel’s border in an effort to prevent militant groups from crossing into the country after days of sustained rocket attacks by Hamas. A top Israeli official also threatened to hunt down every last Hamas commander until the rocket attacks stop.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted, “The target: The Hamas ‘Metro’ tunnel system in Gaza. The operation: 160 aircraft, tanks, artillery and infantry units along the border. We struck 150 targets and damaged many kilometers of the Hamas ‘Metro’ network.”
In another tweet, the IDF said, “Hamas terrorists have dug tunnels from Gaza into Israel. The IDF has been exposing Hamas tunnels since 2014, and has already exposed and targeted 10 new ones this week.”
The IDF added, “If these tunnels were not neutralized, Hamas would be able to carry out one of its goals of infiltrating into Israel and kidnapping Israelis.”
In another tweet, the IDF said, “BREAKING: A short while ago, IDF tanks fired warning shots toward a number of rioters who crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory. The suspects sabotaged the fence and set a fire in the area before returning to Lebanese territory.”
Videos shared on Twitter show crowds of people encroaching on the border, and warning shots soon following.
Naftali Bennett, a member of Israel’s Knesset legislature and former Defense Minister, said in a Thursday interview with Al Jazeera that it is up to the leaders of Hamas to stop the ongoing rocket attacks on Israel and that if they don’t they will be hunted down.
“If Hamas thinks they can get away with this, they’re wrong. We’ll hunt down every commander, every post, until we win,” Bennett added.
Shortly after midnight, IDF officials told reporters that ground troops had entered the Gaza Strip. Two hours later, those same IDF officials retracted that statement. It’s not yet clear why the statement was made, then retracted.
Wall Street Journal correspondent Felicia Schwartz tweeted about the correction. “To be clear, @LTCJonathan told me directly, ‘there are ground troops in Gaza.’ That was the basis for a first story saying so. He retracted that statement two hours later and I changed the story to reflect that, and that is noted in the text and will be corrected.”
In addition to the ground forces deployed, IDF forces continued to target rocket launch sites.
“A Hamas terror squad was about to launch more rockets from Gaza into Israel. We stopped them before they could,” the IDF said.
The IDF also tweeted, “The Iron Dome Aerial Defense System just intercepted a Hamas UAV that crossed from Gaza into Israel.”
The Iron Dome system has intercepted numerous incoming rockets throughout the last four days of fighting.
The IDF also continued to tweet infographics regarding the ongoing exchanges between Israel and Hamas forces. The days of fighting has already seen seven Israelis killed, including a child, according to Israeli reports. The Washington Post reported 119 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed, citing the Gaza Health Ministry.
The IDF has argued that the discrepancy in casualties between the two sides is attributable both to Israel’s efforts to intercept incoming rocket fire, as well as from stray rockets fired by Hamas that have landed inside Gaza.
“The fact that there aren’t more casualties in Israel does not mean that Hamas isn’t trying to kill Isreali civilians,” the IDF said in one tweet. “It simply means that the IDF is preventing them from doing so at an incredible level. The Iron Dome Air Defense System and easily-accessible bomb shelters all over Israel have saved thousands of lives. IDF troops will continue to continue to work 24/7 to defend Israeli civilians at the highest level possible and minimize Gazan casualties wherever possible.”
The IDF also tweeted, “Of the 1,750+ rockets that have been fired since Monday, 300 misfired and exploded inside Gaza, killing and injuring innocent Gazans in the vicinity. This is because Hamas and Islamic Jihad deliberately place rocket launchers and military sites within densely populated civilian areas in the Gaza Strip. In addition, when the IDF warns Gazan civilians to evacuate, Hamas and Islamic Jihad encourage civilians to stay inside.”
The IDF tweeted video of one of the rockets it said had been misfired in recent days.
“WATCH as a Hamas rocket aimed at Israel misfires and falls back into Gaza. But this isn’t the 1st time—Hamas misfired 350 rockets in the last 3 days. These rockets result in the deaths of innocent Gazan civilians. It’s time for the world to hold Hamas accountable.”