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Israel’s forces set up to punch deeper into Gaza with largest assault of war so far

Tanks and troops, backed by pounding airstrikes, look to create the space to press on, but face fierce clashes with Hamas at a number of locations. Kim Sengupta reports from Sderot, close to the Gaza border

Saturday 28 October 2023 21:09 BST
Israeli troops on Saturday patrol a street in Sderot, near the border with Gaza
Israeli troops on Saturday patrol a street in Sderot, near the border with Gaza (EPA)

In their biggest ground operation of the war so far, Israeli forces appear to have established, after fierce fighting, bridgeheads in northern Gaza for massed troops and tanks to punch south deeper into the territory.

The attack, which began on Friday night, was much larger in scope and scale than the half-dozen previous raids, with more than a hundred warplanes carrying out pounding strikes for hours from the air while Merkava tanks and Namer armoured carriers and troops moved in on the ground.

The aim was to destroy Hamas’s defensive positions, flush out ambush points, and sweep for mines and boobytraps. There was stubborn resistance at a number of points, with prolonged clashes in the Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun area and further east near the Bureji refugee camp near the southern city of Khan Younis, a place to which people had fled after warnings to leave their homes in the north.

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