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Military spokesman says Israel plans to increase strikes on Gaza

Israel plans to step up its attacks on the Gaza Strip starting Saturday as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas, Israel’s military spokesman said.

Asked about a possible ground invasion into Gaza, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters Saturday night that the military was trying to create optimal conditions beforehand.

“We will deepen our attacks to minimize the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war. We are going to increase the attacks, from today,” Hagari said.

He repeated his call for residents of Gaza City to head south for their safety.

However, many people in Israel are worried that their family members of friends still held captive by Hamas could be caught in the crossfire of a ground incursion. According to Israeli military estimates, Hamas militants are holding about 200 hostages.

Eli Cohen says militants captured his 27-year old niece, Inbar Haiman, at the Nova music festival on Oct. 7, where at least 260 festivalgoers were killed by Hamas.

“All together four terrorists, they were kidnapping her into Gaza Strip,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that the release of two American hostages on Friday — a mother and daughter from Illinois — “gives me hope because we see there are some negotiations through Qatar. And we see that Hamas understand it needs to let people go.”

On Friday night, while boarding Air Force One, President Biden was asked if he thought Israel should delay a ground assault until Hamas released more hostages. The president answered “yes.” However, a White House official later said the president was too far away and didn’t fully hear the question. CBS News reached out to the White House for clarification on whether the president thinks that Israel should delay a ground invasion, but did not get a response.

On Saturday, deliveries began moving into the besieged Gaza Strip, two weeks after Hamas rampaged through southern Israel and Israel responded with airstrikes.

Egypt’s state-owned Al-Qahera news, which is close to security agencies, said just 20 trucks had crossed into Gaza on Saturday, out of more than 200 trucks carrying roughly 3,000 tons of aid that have been positioned near the crossing for days. The trucks were carrying 44,000 bottles of drinking water from the United Nations children’s agency — enough for 22,000 people for a single day, it said.

However, no U.S. citizens or other foreign nationals who have been stranded in Gazasince the war beganwere allowed to cross into Egypt.

The death toll in Gaza has now reached 4,385 — including 1,756 children and 967 women — in addition to 13,561 injured, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said during a news conference on Saturday. Seventy percent of the casualties are women, children and elderly people, the ministry spokesperson said.

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