The “open-air prison” - home to some 2.3 million Palestinians- has been hit with over 7,000 Israeli air strikes since Hamas’ attack on 7 October, destroying hospitals and UN-protected schools in the relentless assault on the enclave. Israel says more than 1,400 people were killed in the Hamas attacks and around 200 more were taken hostage.
The Israeli military said the overnight raid was carried out “in preparation for the next stages of combat” as the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) prepared for a large-scale invasion.
Though there have been several raids by Israeli forces into Gaza since 7 October, this latest incursion has been deemed the most significant in scale as military officials threaten the “next stages of the war” are imminent.
“The campaign will soon ramp up with greater force,” Benny Gantz, a retired general and member of Israel’s war Cabinet, said.
Mr Gantz added that any possible ground offensive would be only “one stage in a long-term process that includes security, political and social aspects that will take years.”
Though the IDF did not reveal the location of the raid, Geoconfirmed, an online geolocating platform, posted photos of military vehicles on X, mapping the tanks at the northern border of the Gaza strip.
This map shows where the tanks were located, according to Geoconfirmed:
The troops came from the Givati brigade and 162nd Armoured Division, according to Israeli media reports, and returned from the raid without casualties.
“Through the raid, we eliminated terrorists, neutralised threats, dismantled explosives, neutralised ambushes, in order to enable the next stages of the war for the ground forces,” said Israeli military spokesperson R Adm Daniel Hagari.
It comes as more than 7,000 people have been killed in Gaza, including almost 3,000 children, the Palestinian authorities say. At least 17,439 people are said to have been injured.
The Gaza Ministry of Public Works and Housing reported the destruction of 16,441 housing units and the rendering of 11,340 other units uninhabitable, as of 23 October.
The total number of housing units reported as destroyed or damaged accounts for at least 45 per cent of all housing units in the Gaza Strip, according to the UN’s OCHA.
Entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed, particularly in Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, and Ash Shuja’iyeh, the area between Gaza and Ash Shati’ Refugee Camp, and Abbassan Kabeera.
“No place in Gaza is safe now,” Haytam Harara from Gaza City told The Independent. “Bombing is everywhere around us. We hear nothing except for the sound of warplanes, massive bombings, and the sirens of ambulances. It is like we are waiting until our turn comes.”
As of 25 October, 219 educational facilities have been hit, including at least 29 UNRWA schools, the Palestinians say.
This figure includes nearly 629,000 people staying in 150 UNRWA DES, 121,750 sheltering in hospitals, churches, and other public buildings, and nearly 79,000 in 70 non-UNRWA schools. In addition, the Ministry of Social Development estimates that some 700,000 IDPs are residing with host families.