Israel says overnight Gaza incursion was only preparation for 'next stages of combat'

The Israeli military says its overnight incursion into Gaza--the largest incursion of the war so far--was only in preparation for "the next stages of combat."

Israeli Defense Forces made the statement online early Thursday, hours after the brief, but expansive incursion ended. Footage of the assault shows Israeli tanks firing as they move near a Gaza border zone.

"The soldiers have since exited the area and returned to Israeli territory," the military statement added.

Israel began localised ground incursions on Sunday as the war, triggered by an Oct 7 cross-border rampage by Hamas gunmen, entered its third week. Israel's Army Radio described Thursday's incursion as the biggest yet.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to "destroy" Hamas, saying a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip is imminent.

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