An Israeli ground invasion into the Gaza Strip is expected to take place this weekend, after the group controlling the border in the occupied West Bank announced that its forces had been forced to leave the enclave.
The military operation is being coordinated with the Palestinian Authority, which is based in the Gaza strip, which has been under Hamas control since the group seized power in 2007.
The operation was originally planned to be the largest ground operation since Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli-Egyptian military campaign in 2008-09, but it was cancelled by the Palestinian leadership.
The Palestinians have been pressing the international community to allow the international humanitarian aid group Oxfam to enter Gaza, to help alleviate the suffering of millions of people.
Palestinian sources have said the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) will send teams of aid workers to Gaza on Sunday to help Palestinians displaced by the ground invasion, as well as to distribute food aid.
Israeli military officials confirmed the ground offensive, which the IDF announced Sunday night, will start at 6 a.m.
(20:00 GMT) on Saturday.
The Israeli military said its forces will advance in the area around Rafah, the border crossing with Gaza that has been the scene of sporadic fighting for days.
It said its military was targeting a Hamas base in the Qana district, near the border with Israel, in an effort to prevent infiltration into the area.
“We will make sure that we don’t allow the enemy to gain any ground,” a military statement said.
The statement said the operation will be carried out with “complete security.”
A spokeswoman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in Gaza, Sami al-Saadi, said the PLO was sending a team of experts and medical professionals to Gaza to assist with the relief effort.
Israel says the operation is a response to a rocket fired from Gaza by the Islamic Jihad group, which launched a barrage of rockets into Israel last week, including one that struck a military base in Ashkelon on Friday.
The rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome anti-missile systems in the coastal Israeli town of Sderot, which resulted in no injuries or damage.
The PLO has called for the international boycott of Israeli goods, and its leader, Yasser Arafat, has warned that the world should prepare for a “second Holocaust” if Israel does not end its occupation of Palestinian territory.
Israel has long been an ally of Hamas and is one of the few countries that still considers the group a legitimate political entity.
Israel also has long opposed the Palestinian call for a Palestinian state, and has maintained a blockade on Gaza, which allows it to import goods from Egypt.
The Palestinian Authority has been unable to secure a cease-fire with Israel because of Israel’s blockade.
The PA and Israel have agreed to resume a ceasefire in the wake of last year’s Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Israel and the Palestinian factions have been in a political standoff since June 2015, when Israel launched its operation to prevent Hamas from seizing control of the territory.
The Israeli military says Hamas has used the Gaza conflict as cover to launch rockets from the coastal enclave at Tel Aviv and elsewhere.
Hamas controls most of Gaza, with a population of 2.5 million.