UPDATED REPORT — SATURDAY AT 10 A.M. LOCAL TIME
Amid the early stages of its invasion of northern Gaza by land, sea, and air, the IDF has confirmed that it killed a senior Hamas commander.
U.S. President Joe Biden also ordered airstrikes against Iranian positions in Syria on Friday night, after U.S. forces were attacked.
This marks a significant escalation in the region and could suggest that the United States is being drawn in to fight alongside Israel against Iran and its terror proxies.
More on that in a moment.
“Overnight, based on IDF and ISA intelligence, IDF fighter jets struck the head of Hamas' Aerial Array, Asem Abu Rakaba,” noted the IDF spokesman on Saturday morning.
“Abu Rakaba was responsible for Hamas' UAVs, drones, paragliders, aerial detection and aerial defense,” the official statement added.
“He took part in planning the massacre in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip on October 7th. He directed the terrorists who infiltrated Israel on paragliders and was responsible for the drone attacks on IDF posts.
The IDF also confirm that “overnight, IDF fighter jets struck 150 underground targets in the northern Gaza Strip, including terror tunnels, underground combat spaces and additional underground infrastructure. Furthermore, several Hamas terrorists were killed.”
IDF combat tanks and troops are still fighting Hamas terrorists inside Gaza at this hour.
Meanwhile, military action on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon intensified, as well.
“Yesterday (Friday), Hezbollah terrorists attempted to launch rockets toward Israeli territory,” the IDF stated.
However, the rockets fell in Syria.
“In response, an IDF fighter jet struck Hezbollah's military infrastructure in Lebanon.”
Last night, Biden sent Congress a letter explaining why he ordered airstrikes against two of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) sites to retaliate against multiple attacks by the IRGC on U.S. troops operating in the region.
“The strikes were intended to establish deterrence and were conducted in a manner to limit the risk of escalation and avoid civilian casualties,” Biden wrote.
“I directed the strikes in order to protect and defend our personnel, to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners, and to deter Iran and Iran-backed militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities,” he added.
“The United States stands ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks,” he continued.
ORIGINAL REPORT — FRIDAY NIGHT AT 8:45 p.m. LOCAL TIME
As the sun goes down and Shabbat begins, senior Israeli government sources are confirming to ALL ISRAEL NEWS that the ground invasion is beginning.
Dramatically expanded attacks by air, sea and land are underway at this hour in northern Gaza and Gaza city.
All communications in the Gaza Strip have reportedly been cut.
The IDF spokesman just gave a live, televised briefing at 8:15 p.m. local time.
While he didn’t announce or confirm publicly that the full ground war has begun, the IDF never does in the early hours of a major operation.
The spokesman did say that heavy retaliation against Hamas is underway after a massive barrage of rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and central Israel in the last hours.
He urged all Israelis to follow Central Command instructions carefully, and to stay close to safe rooms and bomb shelters.
Last night, Hezbollah terrorists “attempted to launch rockets toward Israeli territory,” the IDF reported.
“In response, an IDF fighter jet struck Hezbollah's military infrastructure in Lebanon,” the statement added.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.