This is according to the Jerusalem Post, though other sources like the NYT report that Israel is in Gaza and has created a communications and power blackout (but are unwilling to say that this is the ground invasion).
The JP’s headline:
And a precis:
The IDF has entered Gaza, and a ground invasion is underway, IDF Spokesman R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari said Saturday morning.
“We have entered Gaza and are expanding operations,” Hagari said, adding that there were no reports of injuries.
He noted that “this is a war” but that the IDF operated in a controlled and strategic manner, with specific goals as its guide.
The IDF has been threatening a full ground invasion for more than two weeks, but due to a combination of reasons – some known and some unknown – a full incursion has yet to occur. On Thursday, the IDF sent troops inside Gaza to strike Hamas targets – both on the ground and via the sea. The troops entered and exited the strip in the same evening.
However, on Friday night, Hagari said that IDF troops were expanding their operations: “In the last few hours, we have severely increased our attacks in Gaza,” he said during an evening briefing, noting that attacks were taking place from the air, sea and land.
. . . Overnight, Israel also took out several senior Hamas terrorists, including the head of the aerial formation and the naval commando unit. Both terrorists played strategic roles in the planning of the October 7 Hamas massacre that killed more than 1,400 Israelis.
From the NYT (click to read); note that they quote the same sources, but the events are interpreted differently. I suspect that the report above is correct: Israel is in Gaza and will not withdraw.
A NYT summary:
Israeli forces were still on the ground in Gaza at least 12 hours after entering the territory, the military said on Saturday, in what would be their most extensive ground operation in the enclave since the Hamas attack on Israel that killed more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers.
On Friday evening, Israel made incursions into the Gaza Strip after launching an intense bombardment, with artillery and airstrikes, military officials said. They did not describe the presence of troops in Gaza as a full-scale invasion, which Israel has been threatening to launch for weeks.
For two days, Israeli forces and tanks had made small forays into Gaza, but previous land incursions have lasted only a few hours.
Telecommunications and internet networks went down overnight, and most people in Gaza could not be reached by phone. The widespread blackout sparked fear and panic in Gaza, according to those residents who were able to reach the outside world, as people struggled to get information or reach one another to check on family and friends amid the bombardment.
The head of the World Health Organization said on X that the blackout was “making it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured,” and international aid agencies said they had lost contact with their staff there.
The Israeli military said in a statement on Saturday that its forces had hit tunnels, underground command posts and other infrastructure. It said that several Hamas fighters had been killed in the strikes. There was no immediate confirmation from Hamas.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesman, told reporters on Friday that Israeli ground forces were “expanding” their activity in the Gaza Strip, without providing details.
It is a tough time, and I haven’t the slightest joy that Israel is finally retaliating for the Hamas butchery of October 7. Many people, both Palestinian and Israeli, will be killed in the next weeks and months, and I don’t really understand how this will meet Israel’s goals of destroying Hamas. (For a ground-invasion scenario that seems more efficacious, see Bret Stephens’s suggestion.)
In fact, although I think Hamas has to be destroyed for the good of everyone (they’ve ruined Gaza and oppressed their own people), the Gazans can’t vote it out or pressure the organization to disband; those are non-starters. And everyone agrees that Israel had to defend itself. All I can say is that this is depressing, but if Israel simply withdrew, as many seem to want, it would be worse than “business as usual”, for terrorists from the north and south would be empowered, and Israel would face an existential threat.
And, of course, there are still the hostages. What will happen to them now? What will the U.S. do? Will Hezbollah be drawn in, in which case the U.S. will be drawn in?
If you have a suggestion about what course Israel could take now that would be the least bad, put it below. Otherwise, we can only sit and wait, knowing that many deaths are in the offing, and even in the unlikely event that Hamas is destroyed, Israel’s already rock-bottom reputation in the world will sink even lower.