The Israel Defense Forces carried out a wave of airstrikes on Hamas terror assets in the Gaza Strip overnight Saturday, attacking tunnels, command centers and weapons storehouses.
In addition, ground troops directed a drone to “eliminate” a terrorist cell in Gaza.
The military also said naval forces shelled Hamas military infrastructure and vessels.
The IDF announced on Sunday morning that two additional soldiers were killed in battles in Gaza.
Staff Sgt. Aschalwu Sama, 20, from Petah Tikva, died on Saturday from wounds sustained on Nov. 14, and Sgt. First Class (res.) Or Brandes, 25, from Shoham, was killed in the renewed fighting.
IDF Arabic-language Spokesman Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee said on Sunday that the military was continuing to evacuate Palestinians ahead of the expected expansion of the ground operation to the southern Gaza Strip.
The IDF has published a map splitting the area into scores of small zones, which will be used to notify civilians of impending active combat.
“The people of Gaza are not our enemies. For this reason, the IDF is leading controlled and specific evacuations in order to remove them as much as possible from areas of combat,” the military said in a message to Gaza residents.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated on Saturday night that the military was operating in new areas of Gaza, adding that Jerusalem’s objective to fully dismantle Hamas remains unaltered.
“In the last two days, we are operating in areas we have not been active in over the last month, and it will increase and intensify,” he said. “This operation will reach every point that needs to be reached. We are going for the absolute elimination of the Hamas terror organization.
“The IDF has returned to fighting at full force—we are carrying on, exactly where we left off,” continued Gallant. “We are keeping our eyes on the goals of this war: defeating Hamas, destroying its governing and military capabilities—not allowing Hamas to continue its rule over Gaza—and returning the hostages to their homes.”
Airstrikes overnight Friday included an “extensive” wave of more than 50 attacks on Hamas infrastructure in the Khan Yunis area in southern Gaza, according to the military.
The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday morning that it struck more than 400 terror sites in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, as the war against Hamas resumed following a week-long ceasefire.
On Saturday night, the IDF announced the killing of Wissam Farhat, commander of Hamas’s Shejaiya Battalion, in an airstrike.
He was responsible for an attack on troops during the 2014 war that killed seven Golani Brigade soldiers in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, including Oron Shaul, whose remains have since been held by Hamas, the military said.
Farhat also helped direct Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of Israel in which 1,200 people were massacred.
Israeli forces have located more than 800 underground tunnel shafts and destroyed around 500 of them since the start of the war, the IDF said on Sunday afternoon.
In addition, “many miles” of the tunnel routes have been demolished, the army said.
“The tunnel shafts were located in civilian areas, many of which were near or inside civilian buildings and structures, such as schools, kindergartens, mosques and playgrounds,” the IDF said.
“IDF soldiers located large quantities of weapons inside some of the shafts. These findings are further proof of how Hamas deliberately uses the civilian population and infrastructure as a cover for its terrorist activity inside Gaza.”