The Israel Defense Forces destroyed tunnel shafts, a key part of Hamas’s underground infrastructure in Gaza, and killed significant numbers of terrorists on Thursday, as battles raged across Khan Yunis, Shejaiya and Jabalia throughout the day.
The IDF 188th Brigade, in collaboration with the Yahalom elite combat engineering unit, destroyed seven tunnel shafts, eliminated several terrorists, and seized a large cache of ammunition and explosives in northern Gaza on Thursday. A notable confrontation occurred in a school, in which IDF soldiers encountered terrorists in close quarters, neutralizing them.
The IDF announced on Thursday that two reservist soldiers were killed in action in Gaza: Master Sgt. (res.) Gal Meir Eizenkot, 25, of the 551st Brigade’s 699th Battalion, of Herzliya, and Sgt. Maj. (res.) Jonathan David Deitch, 34, of the 55th Brigade’s 6623rd Reconnaissance Battalion, of Harish. The 25-year-old is the son of former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot.
Significantly, the Israeli Air Force acted on precise intelligence to kill Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a senior Hamas military intelligence operative who was involved in planning the Oct. 7 attacks. Israeli forces also killed Ahmed Aiush, a senior terror operative from Hamas’s Carrara Battalion observation unit, at Hamas’s central intelligence command center, the military said.
That center played a crucial role in Hamas’s combat activities and attacks on IDF soldiers.
In another operation, the IDF identified and eliminated a Hamas terrorist cell armed with rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) anti-tank missiles in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF’s 36th Division has engaged in close-quarter combat with terrorists, targeting and dismantling Hamas capabilities. Weapons, underground infrastructures and tunnel shafts, often concealed within civilian buildings and schools, have been a significant focus of these operations.
Golani Brigade soldiers eliminated numerous terrorists, uncovering tunnel shafts and rocket launchers. The Kfir Brigade discovered RPG launchers and ammunition in a civilian residential building, further exposing Hamas’s integration in civilian areas. Additionally, Israeli forces found a terror tunnel inside a school.
As part of the Nahal Brigade’s operations in Jabalia, soldiers encountered terrorists, who fired anti-tank missiles at them. The soldiers ordered a drone strike, guided by the brigade’s Fire Control Center, intelligence and soldiers in the field.
In Jabalia, a targeted raid was conducted on a military compound of the Central Jabalia Battalion, leading to the death of several terrorists and the discovery of a tunnel network.
In Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, IDF troops from the 98th Division, which includes elite commando units, killed Hamas terrorists and destroyed dozens of terror targets, including a tunnel shaft and terrorists who emerged from it.
Israeli naval forces also contributed to the war effort, striking Hamas military compounds and infrastructure. On Wednesday, a terrorist cell that emerged from a tunnel in Khan Yunis was neutralized by a drone that IDF ground troops directed.
An anti-tank missile launched from Lebanese territory struck Matat, in northern Israel, killing an Israeli farmer. There were also additional launches from Lebanon.
In response, Israeli Air Force helicopters, tanks and artillery targeted the launch sites. IAF fighter jets also struck Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon, including infrastructure, launch posts and military sites.
Israeli fighter jets struck terrorist infrastructure and an operational command and control center belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon.
Israel also identified launches from Lebanese territory toward Israel earlier today. In response, the IDF fired toward the launch sources.
‘Such crucial days for Israel’
Also on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hosted his British counterpart, U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Grant Shapps at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.
The ministers held a one-on-one discussion, followed by a bilateral security briefing with professional delegations. Following their discussion, Gallant invited the British secretary to participate in the candle-lighting ceremony on the first night of Chanukah.
“Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming during such crucial days for Israel. I would say that it’s no less than a historic visit,” Gallant said.
He noted that a British “secretary of state dealing with defense issues has not visited Israel over the past 27 years, so we feel very privileged and we thank you for coming especially during these days.”
“Two months ago, the war was launched when we were brutally attacked by Hamas, and now we are fighting,” Gallant added. “We are determined to win, and we will prevail. I am sure of it.”
On Wednesday, 12 rockets that targeted Beersheva in southern Israel were launched from near tents hosting Gazan civilians in Rafah and near U.N. facilities, the IDF said.