update deskIsrael at War

IAF strike kills Hamas intel chief in Beit Hanoun

Nine other terrorists were also killed in the precision strike.

Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, April 18, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, April 18, 2024. Credit: IDF.

An Israeli Air Force attack this week killed a senior Hamas terrorist responsible for intelligence gathering in the Beit Hanoun area of northeastern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday.

Yussef Rafik Ahmed Shabat also served in the terrorist group’s Beit Hanoun Internal Security Department, the military added.

IDF troops, including the 162nd Armored Division’s 215th Artillery Brigade, working alongside Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) officers, directed the attack that killed Shabat. Nine other terrorists were also killed in the precision strike.

Following the IDF’s April 7 withdrawal of almost all ground forces from Gaza, the army shifted to a new phase in the war in which troops have carried out targeted raids into terrorist hotspots in the coastal enclave.

Earlier this week, the IDF announced the call-up of two reserve brigades to reinforce troops pursuing Hamas terrorists.

On Wednesday, Israeli fighter jets, acting on intelligence provided by the IDF Southern Command’s Fire Center, targeted a terrorist position in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, the IDF said, noting that terrorists there had fired mortar shells at soldiers of the 162nd Division, also known as the Steel Formation.

The IAF attack was part of a broader aerial assault on “dozens of terrorist targets” throughout Gaza, according to the army, which said planes hit observation posts, “military” buildings, terrorist squads and terrorist infrastructure.

Over the past week, soldiers of the 401st Armored Brigade, in collaboration with the Yahalom elite combat engineering unit, killed more than 40 terrorists in close-quarters combat and through airstrikes, the military said on Thursday. In addition, forces destroyed more than 100 terrorist infrastructures, including missile production sites.

During combat operations in the area of Wadi Gaza, which runs south of Gaza City and separates the northern and southern sections of the Strip, soldiers discovered and destroyed an underground Hamas terror complex intended to prevent Israeli forces from crossing, the army said.

As part of the operation, 17 shafts were demolished, including several attack tunnels. Forces also located rocket launching pads used by Hamas and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

Meanwhile, the 162nd Division’s Nahal Brigade worked to secure the nearby area of the Netzarim Corridor, killing terrorists, seizing weapons and destroying a terror tunnel in the area.

The IDF said on Thursday that, so far, “dozens” of targeted raids have been carried out as part of the new phase of the war. In total, more than 1,000 terrorists have been killed in recent weeks, and over 12 miles of tunnel infrastructure have been destroyed in the area of the corridor.

Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a briefing on Monday evening in preparation for the IDF operation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where Hamas’s final battalions are concentrated and where its senior leadership and remaining hostages are believed to be.

CNN on Monday cited sources in Jerusalem who claimed that the IDF was set to take its first steps towards a ground offensive this week, but that the move was delayed in the wake of Iran’s aerial assault on Israel.

Gallant told IDF soldiers last week that the decision to withdraw troops was made in preparation for the battle in Rafah.

The Israeli government has repeatedly emphasized that telling it to refrain from conquering Rafah is equivalent to demanding that it lose the war. According to Israel, four Hamas battalions, composed of some 3,000 terrorists, are holed up in the city along the Egyptian border.

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