update deskIsrael at War

Gallant: Hamas chief Sinwar has become a hunted fugitive

"We are fighting a just war against a brutal enemy,” said the Israeli defense minister.

OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin (left) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center) arrive for a situation assessment at Northern Command HQ in Safed, Dec. 25, 2023. Photo by Elad Malka.
OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin (left) and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center) arrive for a situation assessment at Northern Command HQ in Safed, Dec. 25, 2023. Photo by Elad Malka.

Hamas’s terror chief in Gaza is on the run, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday, as the IDF continues to advance in Khan Yunis and prepare for an assault on Rafah.

“[Yahya] Sinwar has turned from the leader of a terrorist organization to a fugitive,” said Gallant, during an address at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv to a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

The minister discussed operational developments in Gaza and detailed the IDF’s achievements in targeting Hamas leadership and infrastructure, as well as efforts to free the hostages.

He also discussed the threat posed by Hezbollah in the northern arena, and Iranian efforts to operate proxies against Israel on seven fronts.

In parallel, Gallant addressed opportunities for further regional integration via normalization with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, which he said was contingent on a decisive victory against terrorism.

“We, the Jewish people and the State of Israel, must stand strong and united. We must know that we are fighting a just war against a brutal enemy,” he said.

Israeli forces on Wednesday killed dozens of terrorists in Khan Yunis, including by sniper fire. Soldiers also called in an airstrike to eliminate two armed terrorists who were approaching them on bicycles.

Ground troops also continued to operate in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, directing aerial strikes on Hamas weapons storage facilities, observation posts and other terrorist infrastructure. Soldiers also eliminated a Hamas terror squad that was located by drone.

On Sunday, Gallant said that hundreds of Hamas terrorists who “lost their fighting spirit” had surrendered in recent days.

“Hamas is left with forces in the central area of Gaza and the Rafah Battalion. The only thing required for their total collapse as a military system is a decision by the IDF. There is no one here to come to their aid—no Iranians and no international assistance,” he told senior officials in the military’s Southern Command.

“We will dismantle Hamas’s six remaining battalions—we have no right to stop as long as there are 134 hostages left in Gaza,” the defense minister added.

Turning to the Lebanon front, last week Gallant said that the military had stepped up its attacks against Hezbollah by “one level out of 10,” warning that jets above the Land of the Cedars have been armed with “heavier bombs for more distant targets.

“We do not want to enter into a war, but rather are interested in reaching an agreement that will allow the safe return of residents of the north to their homes,” he added, in reference to the 80,000 Israelis displaced from their homes up to 6 miles from the border with Lebanon.

“But if there is no choice, we will act to bring [them] back and create the appropriate security for them. This should be clear to both our enemies and our friends,” said the defense minister.

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