Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Thursday that more than 100 Hamas terrorists had been caught in the previous 36 hours, as the IDF pushes forward in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
“Hamas is collapsing into its own tunnels that it painstakingly dug. Every place it thought would be a trap for IDF soldiers becomes an area where we hit it,” Gallant told soldiers serving in the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit.
“In the past day and a half, we have over 100 captives, some of them who came up from underground, in the Khan Yunis area and also in other places, because they realize that they can’t fight against the IDF,” he added.
The IDF said on Friday that its 98th Paratroopers Division eliminated dozens of terrorists and continued to attack Hamas infrastructures in Khan Yunis.
In parallel, Israel Air Force fighter jets carried out strikes against dozens of targets, including apartments used by terrorists, weapons storage facilities, observation posts and assembly points.
In one instance, soldiers identified five terrorists entering a Hamas position and directed an aircraft to eliminate the threat. A Maglan commando unit spotted a squad of four terrorists, who had fired an anti-tank missile at IDF forces a few hours earlier. They called in a fighter jet which bombarded the squad.
Similarly, troops from the Givati Infantry Brigade directed tank gunners and snipers to destroy a squad of six terrorists who had fired on them.
Israel Defense Forces troops continue to strengthen their operational dominance in the heart of Khan Yunis, the military said on Thursday, in a sign of progress towards establishing full control over the Hamas stronghold.
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza and one of the masterminds of the Oct. 7 massacre of some 1,200 persons in Israel’s northwestern Negev region, is believed to be hiding in Khan Yunis, as is Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades “military wing.”
Since Sunday, the army has been mounting a massive military assault in Khan Yunis, killing dozens of terrorist operatives, including company commanders. The battle force includes parts of the IDF’s Givati Infantry Brigade, 7th Armored Brigade, paratroopers and commandoes.
Visiting the Gaza border on Thursday the occasion of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish “New Year of the Trees,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “deepen our roots in our land and uproot our enemies.”
“Hamas came to uproot us; we will uproot them. Hamas came to wipe us out; we will wipe them out,” the premier told soldiers and female observers from the 414th Battalion of the IDF’s Combat Intelligence Corps, which was devastated by the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 attacks.
“On Tu B’Shevat, here, next to the Gaza Strip, I say as clearly as possible: There is no alternative to deepening our roots and there is no substitute for total victory over our enemies,” added Netanyahu as he planted a tree in honor of the holiday and in memory of fallen IDF soldiers.
“The most important thing is that we will continue to build up the [destroyed Gaza border] communities,” he said. “We will make them prosper, much more than previously, and we are committed to achieving total victory. Total victory means eliminating Hamas and returning all of our hostages—we will not give in on this goal.”