Israeli officials initiated the distribution of weapons and military gear to Israeli standby security teams settled near the Gaza Strip, reported The Times of Israel.
In a joint statement, the Israel Defence Forces and Defence Ministry announced that this move is part of the “Return of the Wind” programme, which includes the distribution of “basic combat equipment” such as weapons, ceramic vests and helmets to improve border defence.
Upcoming plans also include the distribution of further equipment, with additional medical and logistical gear, according to the statement.
This process will extend over the following weeks, with the programme designed to “allow better conditions for the return of residents to the communities in the coming weeks.”
Israel expanded its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip on 27 October as part of its military operation in the Palestinian Territory following a cross-border attack by Hamas on 7 October.
According to The Times of Israel, the distribution of weapons will eventually include other regions.
Moreover, the number of IDF soldiers stationed in each Gaza border community will also increase, along with an expansion of training for troops, tailored to meet the specific requirements on the ground.
Israel resumed its military offensive on the Gaza Strip on 1 December after the end of a week-long humanitarian pause with Hamas.
At least 17,177 Palestinians have been killed and more than 46,000 others injured in relentless air and ground attacks on the enclave since 7 October following a cross-border attack by Hamas.
The Israeli death toll in the Hamas attack stood at 1,200, while 138 hostages are still held by the Palestinian group in Gaza, according to official figures.