In the days following Hamas' surprise attack into Israeli territory, the IDF has been amassing troops at the border with the Gaza Strip while continuing to bomb the inside of the territory with air strikes, drones and artillery.
Now, Israeli Minister of the Economy Nir Barkat has confirmed that the Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant has told the IDF to begin the country's offensive against Hamas – just in time for the arrival of a hefty military aid package from the United States.
"The Army has [the] green light," said Barkat during a press conference, clarifying that he will not discuss military plans in public due to national security concerns. "The Israeli government made the decision, gave the green light to the army: 'Wipe them out.'"
The IDF has also confirmed that it was in the process of approving final plans for a ground invasion of Gaza. Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers and hundreds of IDF tanks and other armored vehicles are already positioned for a ground assault focusing on the northern half of the Gaza Strip, up to the Wadi Gaza River which bisects the region in two.
"As part of the completion of the preparation for the continuation of the fighting, the approval of operational plans and the deployment of forces in the field are currently happening," said the IDF in a statement.
When asked about the several hundred hostages Hamas is currently holding in Gaza, Barakat admitted that rescuing the hostages will be a secondary priority for the IDF. The military's first objective will be destroying Hamas, "even if it takes a year." He added that preventing civilian casualties will also be a secondary concern.
Israeli airstrikes and artillery bombardments have caused extensive destruction in Gaza, with more than 3,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, killed and over 12,000 more wounded.
A ground offensive, which will likely include Israeli troops, tanks, drones and aircraft marching into Gaza, is expected to result in further major civilian casualties.
"We shall do all efforts to bring our hostages – to bring our hostages [back] alive," insisted Barakat, before adding that the "first and last priority" is the destruction of Hamas.
Hamas claims that it has 203 Israeli and international hostages. The IDF has only been able to confirm the existence of 155 of these alleged 203 hostages. Most, if not all, of these hostages are held within Hamas' vast underground network of tunnels and hideouts in Gaza. (Related: Hostages held by Hamas in Gaza will be almost impossible to rescue, warns counterterrorism expert.)
Asked about what the IDF will do about Hamas' massive tunnel network, Barkat vowed to make it "the world's biggest cemetery."
Learn more about the Israel-Palestine conflict at WWIII.news.
Watch this Oct. 16 episode of "Brighteon Broadcast News" as Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, discusses the devastating consequences to the global economy of Israel's war on Gaza.