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Tanks line up at Gaza border as ground invasion appears imminent

Israel appeared to be readying its expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip early Friday, with a large border town evacuated and fleets of tanks lining up on the border where hundreds of thousands of soldiers are already camped out.

Israeli officials have been warning for days that it will soon launch its ground invasion, as they amassed at least 300,000 troops along the border in response to Hamas’ surprise attack on Oct. 7, when the terrorist organization killed at least 1,400 people — mostly civilians — and took more than 200 others hostage, the Voice of America reports.

Speaking to those troops on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they would soon see Gaza “from the inside.

“Whoever sees Gaza from afar will soon see it from the inside,” he said. “The order will come.”

Gallant’s meeting with troops came as Economy Minister Nir Barkat announced that the Israeli Defense Forces had been given a “green light” to bring the offensive to Gaza — a roughly 140-square-mile parcel of land between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea.

“We shall [make] all efforts to bring our hostages, to bring our hostages [back] alive,” he insisted to ABC News while acknowledging that the “first and last priority” is destroying Hamas.

The terrorist group has claimed that it is holding about 203 Israeli hostages within the network of tunnels it built underneath Gaza – which Barkat vowed will become the “world’s biggest cemetery.”

As tanks appeared at the ready Friday, there were also reports of heavy airstrikes hitting Gaza, where Israel says it has struck more than 100 targets linked to Hamas, including a tunnel and arms depots.

Follow along with The Post’s live blog for the latest on Hamas’ attack on Israel

Israel has evacuated its own communities near Gaza and Lebanon, putting residents up in hotels elsewhere in the country.

The Defense Ministry announced evacuation plans Friday for Kiryat Shmona, a town of more than 20,000 residents near the Lebanese border.

The IDF is intent on decimating the terrorist group “even if it takes a year” – with hostages and civilian casualties taking a backseat, Barkat explained.

Israeli officials have been adamant they have no choice but to launch the massive assault codenamed Operation Swords of Iron.

The IDF is intent on decimating the terrorist group “even if it takes a year” – with hostages and civilian casualties taking a backseat, Barkat explained.

Since Hamas seized power in the region 16 years ago, they argue, Israel has fought three major conflicts.

But each of those operations was aimed at keeping Hamas in check, rather than destroying the terrorist group as they are now planning.

“The strategy was to have a longer gap every time between the different conflicts, but it failed and it cannot happen anymore,” an unidentified senior IDF official told The Guardian.

“So the only conclusion is that we have to go in, we have to go in and clear it and eliminate Hamas from the roots, not only militarily, but also economically, its administration.”

2005: Israel unilaterally withdraws from the Gaza Strip over three decades after winning the territory from Egypt in the Six-Day War.

2006: Terrorist group Hamas wins a Palestinian legislative election.

2007: Hamas seizes control of Gaza in a civil war.

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