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Machine gun fire breaks out on Israel's border with Gaza as soldiers told 'you will soon see it from the inside'
20 October 2023, 09:41 | Updated: 20 October 2023, 12:22
Machine gun fire has broken out on the border with Israel and Gaza after soldiers were told they would soon see the strip from "inside".
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Israel is massing its army and it's poised to invade on the ground in a bid to end Hamas's capacity to harm its people ever again.
The stage is set for an expected attack, which will force soldiers to fight in the densely urban Gaza city and in the "Metro" system of terrorist tunnels, with world leaders including Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak having left after their visits.
Automatic fire was heard on the border on Friday morning and reporters in the area have noticed increased activity on the frontier.
Yoav Gallant, the defence minister, told troops: "Whoever sees Gaza from afar will soon see it from the inside. The command will come, I promise you.
"There is no forgiveness for this thing. Only total annihilation of Hamas organisation - terror infrastructures, everything that has to do with terrorists and whoever sent them.
"It will take a week, it will take a month, it will take two months, until we annihilate them. You are not alone in battle. We trust you and count on you. Carry on training while there is time."
Israel has pummelled Gaza with air strikes, causing international observers to fear for innocent Palestinians' safety.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has told about a million people in Gaza city to go south for their own safety.
They will seek to ruin Hamas, having already killed a number of their senior members, and rescue as many of the roughly 200 hostages as they can.
Earlier this week, Eli Cohen, Israel's foreign minister, said: "At the end of this war, not only will Hamas no longer be in Gaza, but the territory of Gaza will also decrease." It was unclear if that meant annexation or a kind of buffer zone would be imposed.
It is almost two weeks on from the day Hamas paraglided over the security barrier and breached Israel's defences before rampaging through a music festival and villages, butchering the elderly and babies and sparing some so they could abduct them.
An invasion will lead to even more casualties and worsen community tensions worldwide amid mass protests for Palestine and a huge spike in anti-Semitic incidents.
But it is unclear when Israel will strike.
Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, said: "We will not advertise when, where, and how we will advance or do or enhance our military activities."
Soldiers are "standing by for the next stage of our operations", he added.
It comes after Rishi Sunak pledged to stand by Israel against terrorism.
"I'm proud to stand here with you in Israel's darkest hour, as your friend," he told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"We will stand with you in solidarity, we will stand with your people. And we also want you to win."
Netanyahu, who called Hamas the "new Nazis", promised troops would "win with full force".
US troops at the Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq were attacked with drones and missiles but no casualties have been reported. An American warship, the USS Carney, intercepted three land attack missiles launched by Houthi fighters in the Red Sea.