The following is the full statement of the IDF Chief of Staff:

Three weeks have passed since this war began. This is a war with multiple stages. Today we move to the next one. Our forces are currently operating on the ground in the Gaza Strip. These activities are being supported by precise and heavy fire, all in service of the war’s objectives - dismantling Hamas, securing our borders, and the supreme effort to return the hostages home.

To date, we have stabilized our defensive line, conducted strikes, our enemy has had hundreds killed and infrastructure destroyed. Responsibility for the situation in Gaza lies with Hamas and its criminal actions.

The best soldiers and commanders - well-trained and prepared - are now operating in Gaza. I met with them over the last few days, they are all driven by a sense of the mission and firm belief in the justness of our way, the way of the State of Israel.

Throughout the last few days, we have also continued to target and eliminate commanders of the Hamas terrorist organization, striking operatives and striking infrastructure.

Both the ground forces who meet the enemy in the battlefield and the supporting air, sea and land strike forces benefit from the support of intelligence that makes them even more effective.

We are following regional developments and are prepared for any scenario.

Every regional command, force, and branch of the IDF is prepared for possible developments and is supporting the war effort.

We are at a very high level of readiness along the northern border in order to prevent and thwart Hezbollah's attempts to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers, as the Northern Command has successfully done in recent days.

The ground forces are currently carrying out an important and complex operation.

The objectives of this war require a ground operation. Achievements demand risks and, as we know, every victory comes at a price. In order to expose and destroy the enemy, there is no other way than to enter its territory with force. This action serves all the purposes of the war.

On October 7, three weeks ago, Hamas committed a crime against all humanity. Hamas is currently holding innocent people - babies, children, women, men and elderly civilians alike. Returning the hostages is a supreme national effort. From myself to every soldier in the Gaza Strip, we will do everything in order to succeed in this effort.

Our hearts and strength are with the families and with the hostages.

We have set ourselves clear goals and the road will be long, we will combine strength and deliberation. We will remember to fight with determination, and we will win.