“Significant movement of civilians in southern Palestine”: Israeli military

News Desk: The Israeli military on Saturday said it is seeing a “significant movement” of civilians in southern Palestine, a day after Israel warned them to evacuate before an expected ground offensive against Hamas in retaliation for its deadliest attack in Tel Aviv’s history on October 7.

The army also said that its ground forces have made “localised” raids in Gaza in the last 24 hours “to cleanse the area of terrorists and weaponry” and find “missing persons”. It also emphasised that they were not targeting Palestinian civilians and are trying to evacuate them.

Israel has also moved its forces, tanks and heavy weapons to the southern desert area around Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that nearly a week of fierce bombardment on Gaza was just the beginning, without elaborating further. Hamas, on the other hand, has vowed to fight to the last drop of blood and has urged residents in Gaza to stay.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said that consultations were ongoing with regional governments on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as trapped Palestinians faced severe shortages of power, food and water. He also said that his administration was “working like hell” to rescue American hostages held by Palestine-based militant group Hamas.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas for the October 7 attack in which its fighters killed 1,300 Israelis, mainly civilians, and seized scores of hostages. At least 1,900 Gazans, including more than 600 children, have been killed in waves of retaliatory missile strikes by Israel on Gaza.