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Gallant: Hamas cannot continue to exist as terror army or regime

Defense minister says Israel to pursue Hamas “across the Middle East” • In Gaza, elite Israeli commandos and Shin Bet intelligence coordinators clear “Hamad towers” of terrorists • Some 250 enemy combatants surrender.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Jerusalem on Dec. 26, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Jerusalem on Dec. 26, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Hamas cannot be allowed to continue to exist as a political regime or terrorist-military entity, and Israel will pursue them “everywhere, across all of Judea and Samaria, in the Middle East—everywhere,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed on Wednesday.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s terrorists walking with uniforms and weapons, or those who wear suits and pretend to be politicians—all of them,” he emphasized in an apparent reference to both Hamas’s terror operatives in the Gaza Strip and overseas leaders.

“This murderous entity called Hamas will be pursued by the State of Israel—its warriors, everywhere, in every way. We are at the end of a period and at the beginning of a period; the trajectory that we set in these days will be the one that leads us years forward and the way we live in the Middle East,” he said.

Speaking at the Bnei David pre-military academy in the community of Eli, in the Binyamin Regional Council of Judea and Samaria, Gallant spoke with the academy’s rabbis and heard about graduates killed in action in Gaza in the war against Hamas.

“I meet the academy’s students time and again in Gaza, in the north, and in Judea and Samaria, and also in other places in Israel’s most secret operations. I think there’s a special spirit here. But this spirit also involves a heavy price, which on one hand evokes pride, and on the other hand has an aspect of pain and suffering that are extraordinary for the families and also for the students, and certainly, for the rabbis, it’s not a trivial matter,” said Gallant.

“In this place, something else is happening—we are in the study hall, and I think that faith and Torah study are the most fundamental foundation of the people of Israel, and when I see that it is being maintained alongside a similar excellence in the battlefield, I want to tell you that as the Minister of Defense, I am proud that there are soldiers like you in the IDF who hold a weapon in one hand and study from the book in the other hand,” he continued.

“I think that this reflects something very deep of a connection of faith and capability,” the defense minister added. “The ability to continue to study, and on the other hand to be able to defend the State of Israel and what we have, is proof that without physical existence, there is no spiritual existence. This is true at the individual level and it is true at the national level.”

IDF, Hamad City, Gaza Strip
Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip on March 4, 2024. Credit: IDF.

‘Moving from building to building’

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the IDF’s 98th Division continued operations in the Hamad City area in western Khan Yunis, eliminating terrorists there.

Soldiers of the elite Maglan and Egoz units of the Commando Brigade, in cooperation with Shayetet 13 naval commandos, “arrived covertly in the area and began moving from building to building together with the ISA [the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet] coordinators through terrorist infrastructure in ‘Hamad Towers,’ which are significant multi-story buildings in the area used by the Hamas terrorist organization,” the IDF said in a statement.

The forces apprehended many terrorists who surrendered, including a Hamas sniper-cell commander and two Hamas squad commanders, the military said.

In addition, the soldiers located numerous weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, grenades, vests, RPGs, explosives, ammunition, explosive kits and diving systems intended for military-terrorist use.

IDF combat teams from the 7th Armored Brigade and the Givati Brigade also sealed off terror installations in the area and began moving into new areas in Khan Yunis.

The 7th Brigade, in cooperation with Military Intelligence’s Unit 504—responsible for human intelligence—and the Shin Bet apprehended some 250 terrorists from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad since beginning operations in the area, the military said.

 Some of the terrorists apprehended took part in the Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 men, women and children in the western Negev, and some are members of Hamas’s elite Nukhba force, according to the IDF.

“The terrorists are being interrogated and are providing information that assists the continuation of the combat,” it stated.

Also on Wednesday, IDF troops, acting on Shin Bet intelligence, eliminated Omar Atiya Daruish Aladdiny, a Hamas terrorist responsible for rocket fire in the area of the central camps in the Gaza Strip. Aladdiny was a Hamas operative for several decades, responsible for embedding its rocket arsenal in Gaza and firing rockets at Israel since “Operation Cast Lead” (2008-09), up to and including the current war, the military stated.

Aladdiny also played a central role in the preparations for the mass-murder spree on Oct. 7, according to the IDF. During the war, he directed rocket launches towards Israeli civilian areas, including Tel Aviv and communities in the south, and was responsible for heavy fire directed at IDF ground troops in Gaza, the military said.

Furthermore, in response to recent rocket fire towards southern Israel, including the city of Sderot, ground and air units conducted joint strikes on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the area of Jabalia in northern Gaza, the military said.

In the north, a Hezbollah suicide drone infiltrated Israeli airspace from Lebanon on Wednesday, flying over the Metula area before exploding. There were no injuries in the attack, the IDF stated.

Later on Wednesday, Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck a Hezbollah military structure in the area of Yaroun and an additional military structure in the area of Kafra, both in Southern Lebanon.

Separately, the IDF said it struck a target in Kfarhamam, also in Southern Lebanon, “to prevent an immediate threat.”

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