In a televised address on Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that the nation’s military is gearing up for a potential ground offensive in Gaza.
However, he did not provide specific details about the timeline or other operational aspects of the mission.
Netanyahu emphasized that any decision to begin a land offensive would be made collectively by the government’s special war cabinet.
This cabinet currently includes members from Netanyahu’s own Likud party, as well as other conservative and religious parties in the government. In a rare show of unity, opposition leader Benny Gantz has also joined this crisis government.
During his address, Netanyahu stated, “We have already killed thousands of terrorists, and this is just the beginning.”
He continued to assert that preparations for a ground invasion were underway, but remained tight-lipped about the specifics. “I will not elaborate on when, how, and how many. I will also not detail the numerous calculations we are making, which the public is largely unaware of. That’s how it should be,” he said.
Netanyahu also called on Israeli citizens to bear arms and reiterated his previous request for the civilian population in the Gaza Strip to move southward.
Just hours before Netanyahu’s address, French President Emmanuel Macron, who was visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, warned against a “massive” ground operation.
While acknowledging Israel's right to defend itself, Macron highlighted the potential risks to civilians, stating, “If the ground operation is solely aimed at terrorist groups, that is a choice the country has. But if it’s a massive operation that would put civilians at risk, I believe that would be a mistake on Israel’s part.”
Earlier on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that, following a request from the United States, Israel had agreed to delay the ground offensive until U.S. air defense systems could be positioned elsewhere in the Middle East.
These systems are intended to protect American soldiers in Iraq, Jordan, and Syria from drone and missile attacks, as per unnamed U.S. and Israeli officials cited by the newspaper.
As tensions continue to escalate, the international community is closely monitoring the situation, awaiting further developments.