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Israel deepens Gaza incursion, seeks to pressure Hamas leaders Deif, Sinwar

The Israeli army is taking its time, choosing a slow-rolling ground operation instead of a massive armory entry.
Israeli army soldiers gather by three tracked medical vehicles near the northern town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon, Oct. 31, 2023.

TEL AVIV — On Monday, after 24 days of disastrous news and despair, Israelis received a small reprieve. Special forces operating within the Gaza Strip had freed a 19-year-old soldier held hostage by Hamas, and returned her alive and well to her family. 

Pvt. Ori Megidish was one of between five to seven female soldiers serving as field observers on the Israel-Gaza border who were taken prisoner by Hamas on Oct. 7. Some 13 others were killed in grenade and shooting attacks on their small military base in the frontline kibbutz of Nahal Oz.

Gradual deepening of operation

Israel has imposed a blackout on details of the rescue, carried out by the operational arm of the Shin Bet security agency with the help of special military and police units. But the operation has bolstered the argument made repeatedly in recent days by military commanders, and echoed by the top political leadership, that a ground offensive is the only way to pressure Hamas into a deal for the release of the 238 hostages it is holding, most of them civilians.

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