Hamas offers to extend the ceasefire Hamas offers to extend the ceasefire

"The ground operation in Gaza will begin when conditions are ready," Gallant said in a press briefing, according to Israel Army Radio, adding that Israeli forces are preparing for the next steps in the war against Hamas.

"I am determined to make every effort to return the abducted people (captives held by Hamas) to their families," the Israeli minister said, noting that 24 hours after the start of the war, "they launched an extraordinarily intensive bombing campaign."

Gallant declined to answer a question on how the ground offensive in Gaza would affect efforts to free Israeli prisoners held by Hamas.

As Israel's intensive aerial bombardment of Gaza continues into its 20th day, Israeli officials have been saying for days that the next phase will be a ground offensive.

Israeli military sources and the Israeli press say that the operation, which was considered a certainty, has been postponed for reasons that have not been officially disclosed.