(JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Wednesday night to completely defeat Hamas, as the IDF prepares for an 'imminent' ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
“We have already killed thousands of terrorists and this is just the beginning,” he said in a prime-time televised speech. “All Hamas operatives must die, above ground, underground, inside Gaza and outside Gaza.”
The Israel Defense Forces is getting ready for a ground operation, stated the premier, adding that the timing was unanimously agreed on by the war cabinet and military establishment.
“We are working around the clock in order to execute the goals of our war until victory, and we do so without political considerations,” said Netanyahu.
He continued: “I am not going to specify the various considerations we are taking into account, and many of these considerations are not clear to the general public in Israel.”
Netanyahu spoke ahead of the war Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv. The full Cabinet is scheduled to meet later on Wednesday night, according to the Prime Minister’s office.
Israel has reportedly acceded to an American request to hold off on its planned ground invasion of Gaza so that U.S. forces can position air defenses to protect troops in the region.
“The Pentagon is scrambling to deploy nearly a dozen air-defense systems to the region, including for U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
U.S. officials convinced Israel to wait until those deployments are completed, which could be as soon as this week.
At least three people were lightly wounded in a rocket barrage fired at central Israel on Wednesday night, the Magen David Adom medical emergency response group said. Direct hits were reported on residential buildings in Rishon Letzion and Kfar Sirkin near Petach Tikva.
Magen David Adom forces were searching the remains of an apartment building in Rishon Letzion for additional victims trapped under the rubble, local media reports said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Hamas fired a long-range missile that set off sirens in towns just south of Haifa, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed.
The military said the projectile exploded mid-air.
Hamas also fired a long-range rocket from Gaza towards Eilat on Wednesday. The IDF said the projectile hit an open area, causing no injuries or damage. No sirens were sounded in Israel’s southernmost city, although residents of the area reported hearing an explosion.
Later on Wednesday, four rockets were fired at Kiryat Shmona, near the borders with Lebanon and Syria, the IDF said.
All four rockets struck open areas and caused no injuries. The IDF reportedly attacked terrorist targets in Lebanon in response.
Iran is assisting Hamas by supplying it with intelligence, and is also boosting anti-Israel incitement worldwide, Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated on Wednesday morning, day 19 of Israel’s war against the terror organization.
Iran also helped Hamas with training, weapons, funding and technological knowledge, said Hagari.
“Around the world, the proxies are working, from Yemen, Lebanon—instructions come from one place—Iran,” he added.