Israeli tanks and infantry carried out a “targeted raid” in the northern Gaza Strip in a predawn attack on Thursday before withdrawing from the enclave, the military said in a statement.
In its statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the raid was “part of preparations for the next stages of combat”, in which the Jewish nation is planning a ground offensive in Gaza, reports Xinhua news agency.
During the raid, soldiers located and struck “numerous” militants, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts and “operated to prepare the battlefield”, IDF said.
According to the statement, the soldiers have since exited the area and returned to Israeli territory.
There were no reports of casualties on the Israeli side, and the soldiers exited the area at the end of the incursion.
Video published by the IDF showed tanks and armoured vehicles, including a bulldozer, moving on a road near a fence.
The tanks fired artillery, and some destruction could be seen nearby, reports CNN.
IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner described the raid as large but limited in scope, saying it was “a clear and sweep operation intended to create better terms for ground operations if and when that comes in”.
“We actually engaged the enemy, killing terrorists who were planning to conduct attacks against us with anti-tank guided missiles,” he told CNN.
Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, in response to its October 7 deadly terror attacks and kidnap rampage in which 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 200 taken hostage.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israeli is “preparing for a ground incursion,” into Gaza following nearly three weeks of airstrikes on the coastal strip.
The Israeli strikes have killed 6,546 people, and injured 17,000 others since the conflict erupted,.
Meanwhile, limited skirmishes between Israel and Hamas militants have already taken place on the ground in Gaza, reports CNN.
An Israeli soldier killed in a clash with Hamas on Sunday is the first publicly announced Israeli military death inside the enclave since the Hamas attack, according to the IDF.