Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the Israeli army on Friday evening to prepare for a large-scale military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Senior army commanders were ordered to wait for the political leadership to decide when the operation will be carried out.

Mofaz claimed that he wants to give the Palestinian Authority an opportunity to take control over the resistance groups.

Mofaz met with senior military figures on Friday evening, and decided to keep a full closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


According to Israeli intelligence officials, the Palestinian Authority started taking “aggressive steps” against Hamas fighters and warned that Hamas defiance on the P.A should be seriously countered.

Tanks, armored vehicles, Apache helicopters, and other warfare equipment were seen massing around Gaza. Israeli media reported that the army could strike Gaza in the coming days. The army itself did not comment.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior and National Security warned that any military operation and invasion will only lead the area to more escalation and violence.

The statements of the ministry were released after dozens of tanks and armored vehicles were seen moving north of the Gaza Strip and inside the Gush Katif settlement bloc.

The ministry declared that a military offensive will not bring security and stability and will only lead to more violence.

“Israel has tried all sorts of military equipment, and it has always failed,” the ministry said. “Trying it again will only escalate the situation.”   

Meanwhile, Hamas warned that any military operation or strike in Gaza “will open the doors of hell.”

The movement said that it will fiercely fight and counter any military attack in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

On Friday at night, one Palestinian was injured after the Israeli air force fired at a resistance group in northern Gaza. The army claims that the group intended to fire homemade shells.

Also, Israeli sources reported that one homemade shell was fired at a settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries or damage were reported.