Israel has given the war cry an indication of the impending ground assault with its Defence Minister Yoav Gallant telling the soldiers amassed on the border that they will soon see the Gaza enclave from inside. The Hamas militants, in turn, have been described as 'dead men walking' who will be flushed out of all pockets of resistance.
Three phases of the Gaza offensive
On Friday, Gallant outlined the three phases of the Gaza offensive. The first stage was the current military operation meant to destroy Hamas's infrastructure; the intermediate phase would include "operations at lower intensity" eliminating "pockets of resistance;" the last phase would be aimed at removal of Israel's responsibility for life in the Gaza strip.
Analysts said Israel's leaders are determined to rid Gaza of its Hamas rulers, even if that meant going house-to-house in an operation that could last 'years' and result in further casualties among Palestinians. At least two million of them are still trapped in the small enclave.
"There is no forgiveness for this thing. Only total annihilation of Hamas organization -- terror infrastructures, everything that has to do with terrorists and whoever sent them," said the Defence Minister. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also visited a group of soldiers stationed at Golani near the Gaza border and boosted their morale.
Will win war with 'might'
He said Israel would win with "all our might". The Israeli military also raided the Nur Shams refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in search for 'wanted men'; at least 12 Palestinians were killed when they fought back, shooting at Israeli soldiers and throwing improvised bombs at them, killing one officer.
Israeli forces also staged raids in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and Ramallah, searching for militants connected to Hamas. Israel has also began evacuating a northern Israeli city near the Lebanese border.
Church in Palestine Hit
Meanwhile, Hamas militants have accused Israel of committing war crimes after airstrikes hit an Orthodox Christian church where families had taken refuge. A Hamas-run media office said 18 Christian Palestinians had been killed, adding it was 'a war crime that cannot be ignored'.
Diplomats said Egypt and Israel remained at odds over the details of getting humanitarian relief through the Rafah crossing. Among the contentious issues are whether to allow in fuel and how to screen convoys for arms.
The Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), has called for the establishment of a Palestinian State along the 1967 borders. He said that Saudi Arabia rejected targeting of civilians, and stressed the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law.
Huge Egyptian Rally
Hundreds of Egyptians gathered on Friday afternoon in Cairo as part of a pro-Palestinian rally organized by the Egyptian government. The crowd, mostly young men, gathered near the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier in the Egyptian capital waving Palestinian flags. May God protect Gaza, a sheikh said, as hundreds of men on makeshift prayer rugs Palestinian flags and kaffiyehs, Egyptian flags, protest signs bowed their heads.