The Israel Defense Forces’ 98th Division, which includes the Commando Brigade and other special forces, launched a raid of Khan Yunis, Hamas’s stronghold in southern Gaza, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari announced on Wednesday evening, adding that Hamas was surprised by the raid.
“Within a few hours, the soldiers pierced through the defensive lines of the [Hamas] Khan Yunis Brigade, encircling it, and for the first time began to operate in the heart of the area. From the outset, the troops eliminated a number of terrorists and with aerial support, located approximately 30 tunnel shafts and destroyed them,” the IDF said in a statement.
“The forces struck multiple terrorist targets in the area. The forces raided a Hamas battalion post, and found weapons and intelligence materials. At the same time, other IDF troops are encircling the city of Khan Yunis,” stated the military. “The Commando Unit and the Givati Brigade arrived at the center of Khan Yunis, and began targeted raids in the heart of the city. The soldiers eliminated terrorists, destroyed terrorist infrastructure and located weapons. In addition, terrorist targets were struck, including a mosque that was used as a storage facility for weapons.”
The Khan Yunis Brigade is one of the two of Hamas’s most significant brigades. The city is a terrorist stronghold, said the IDF, and is identified as a symbol of Hamas’s military and administrative rule. “The entire leadership of the Hamas terrorist organization, both military and political, proliferated in the area of Khan Yunis, among them Yahya Sinwar, Muhammad Sinwar and Muhammad Deif. Currently, the area is secured by the 98th Division,” said the military.
Alongside this effort, Hagari said, the IDF is working according to a precise map of the whereabouts of Gazan civilians, evacuating them and ensuring the supply of food, water and fuel, which enables desalination and water pumps to continue to work.
“This separates civilians from terrorists and enlarges our ability to fight,” said Hagari.
“The attacks on Hamas in Khan Yunis are being guided by real-time intelligence,” he stressed.
‘We broke through defense lines’
Meanwhile, in northern Gaza, the IDF’s Divisions 36 and 162 are deepening their offensive in Shejaiya and Jabalia.
“In the past 48 hours, these three divisions—with another division in the east—are fighting in high density. In Shejaiya, Jabalia and Khan Yunis, we broke through defense lines. The terrorists are coming out of the ground and fighting our forces face to face. We have the upper hand in these battles,” said Hagari.
He added that Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar is underground, adding, “I don’t want to say where. Our job is to get to Sinwar and kill him as fast as possible. It’s a joint mission of the IDF and the Shin Bet to find him, along with other members of the Hamas leadership.”
Earlier, IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman stated that combat in Khan Yunis is a “central effort.”
He said “we will funnel whatever we need to here, and we push forward all of the time in line with the goals we identified here at the front.”
Post-Gaza: ‘Military effort primarily directed to the north’
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant toured the western sector of the northern border and held a situation assessment on Wednesday with the commander of Division 146, Brig. Gen. Yisrael Shomer, and other senior commanders, and received a briefing on activities to protect the area against Hezbollah.
During a meeting in Nahariya with the heads of the local authorities and councils in the north, Gallant stated: “When we complete the fighting process in Gaza, we will be in a different reality where the military effort will primarily be directed to the north, as the proportion between Hezbollah and Hamas is known to us.”
He added that “we will return the residents to their homes only when conditions are created to do so, and when we are sure that we can provide them with protection, which will be based on a different scope of forces. Where there was a battalion, there will be a brigade, there will be different protection, there will be other security components, there will be a comprehensive defense concept with different standard operating procedures and with different presence.”
Hezbollah has sustained more than 100 casualties and “very significant damage to observation posts, headquarters and weapons depots. We will establish this into something that is an understanding and operational expansion of the sector so that it is clear that in the contact line area, there are no threats—no anti-tank fire, no presence on the border, and certainly, not forces that can penetrate into the territory of the State of Israel from close by,” said Gallant.
“The more we succeed in achieving in Gaza, the clearer things will be here. Any person in Lebanon can take the map—the aerial photograph of Gaza—put it on the aerial photograph of Beirut and ask himself if this is what he wants to happen there. The more we achieve a clearer success, the clearer it will be,” he added.
The defense minister continued, saying “there is one possibility that we will reach a different agreement, which could be similar to Agreement 1701, with the mediation of international elements. They will respect our presence, our existence and our security, and we will respect the other side. The second possibility is that we will have to do this by force. We do not want war, but if we reach a situation where we need to establish security here, we will not hesitate, as we did not hesitate in the south.”
Houthis: ‘This is a global problem’
Earlier on Wednesday, the Defense Ministry announced the arrival of the 200th cargo plane carrying military equipment for the IDF, an effort led by the ministry’s U.S. Procurement Mission and other departments.
“Over 10,000 tons of military equipment were delivered to Israel since the beginning of the war, including armored vehicles, armaments, personal protective equipment, medical supplies, ammunition and more,” said the ministry.
On Tuesday morning, the Israeli Air Force announced that it struck approximately 250 terror targets in the Gaza Strip. IDF troops are continuing to locate weapons, underground shafts, explosives and additional military infrastructure, said the military.
IDF ground troops directed an IDF fighter jet to strike two rocket-launchers from which terrorists fired a barrage of rockets toward central Israel on Tuesday.
Also on Wednesday, following the report of sirens that sounded in the city of Eilat, the launch of a surface-to-surface missile towards Israel was identified and successfully intercepted in the area of the Red Sea by the Arrow Aerial Defense System. Iron Dome also went into action to shoot down fragments.
Hagari described the Houthis as a regional terror threat that is being orchestrated funded and directed by Iran.
“This is a global problem. Our dialogue [is ongoing] with U.S. CENTCOM, and to our understanding, a task force is being set up for the Red Sea,” he said.
In the north, several launches were identified from Lebanon towards an IDF post adjacent to Arab al-Aramshe, as well as an IDF post in the area of Mount Hermon. The IDF struck the sources of fire.
IDF tanks and artillery struck several locations in Lebanon, and IDF aircraft struck a military command center and military infrastructure belonging to Hezbollah.