Benny Gantz, Southern Commander Sami Turgeman
Benny Gantz, Southern Commander Sami Turgeman Flash 90

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz visited an IDF paratrooper base in the south on Friday, and outlined to journalists the next steps planned by the IDF as part of Operation Protective Edge.

"We will widen the operation as required, to the required intensity," remarked Gantz according to Walla!.

The Chief of Staff spoke about the condition of the over 40,000 reserve soldiers who were called up for the operation, noting "everywhere I see fighters...I see the readiness of people, firmness and consideration. A second thing I see, and am happy for, is the public in Israel. The conduct of the public is correct."

"They made a mistake in Gaza in deciding to exert force against us. They understand that it was a great mistake. At this stage we are using all of our offensive means. On the other hand, we know there are civilians (in Gaza), Hamas has turned them into hostages," said Gantz.

The IDF has documented how Hamas has ordered Gaza residents to act as human shields, a fact that one senior IDF source on Thursday said harmed the IDF's ability to conduct airstrikes, and made a ground offensive inevitable.

When asked about the possibility of a ground assault, Gantz said "we are harming Hamas's capabilities, and we have a lot more to do. Hour by hour, day by day, we will expand our abilities as much as we deem necessary."

Warnings were issued by the IDF to 100,000 Gaza residents to evacuate the security border area on Thursday, indicating that a ground offensive may be imminent.

"We will continue attacking until they stop," added Gantz. "The Gaza Strip needs to choose where it's going - to calmness or catastrophe. We won't go into the methods, but we will return the quiet."