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IDF penetrates heart of south Gaza in ‘most intense day’ of ground op

"We are in the heart of Jabalia, the heart of Shejaiya, and as of last night, the heart of Khan Yunis," the military announced.

Israeli ground forces operating against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Dec. 5, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli ground forces operating against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Dec. 5, 2023. Credit: IDF.

The Israel Defense Forces over the past 24 hours penetrated the heart of the southern Gaza Strip as soldiers fought to take control of key neighborhoods in Khan Yunis, the second largest city in the enclave.

“We are in the heart of Jabalia, the heart of Shejaiya [in Gaza City], and as of last night, the heart of Khan Yunis,” IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman announced on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are in the most intense day since the start of the maneuver—in terms of the number of killed terrorists, the number of battles, and the volume of fire brought to bear by ground and air forces,” he added.

Israeli forces were targeting Hamas strongholds and destroying terrorist infrastructure after completing the encirclement of the Jabalia camp in the north of the Strip, the IDF said earlier on Tuesday.

The IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) conducted a targeted raid on a Hamas Internal Security Force command and control center in Jabalia, locating observation and control materials, weapons and maps.

On Monday, troops struck buildings used by Hamas’s elite “Nukhba” unit, which led the Oct. 7 massacre in the northwestern Negev. Soldiers also killed Hamas terrorists and destroyed rockets found in the garden of a private residence in the northern Strip.

The Israel Navy attacked “dozens” of terrorist targets, including compounds from which terrorists fired mortar shells at Israeli forces.

Israeli artillery and airstrikes continued throughout the Gaza Strip and especially in Khan Yunis overnight Monday, where troops were closing in on the Hamas stronghold.

5 more slain soldiers named

The IDF on Tuesday published the names of five more soldiers killed in action in the Gaza Strip after notifying their families. Four of them are from the 188th Armored Brigade’s 53rd Battalion:

Staff Sgt. Tuval Yaakov Tsanani, 20, from Kiryat Gat; Sgt. Yakir Yedidya Schenkolewski, 21, from Migdal Oz; Capt. Eitan Fisch, 23, from Peduel; and Capt. Yahel Gazit, 24, from Rakefet.

Maj. (res.) Gil Daniels, 34, from Ashdod, a soldier in the reconnaissance company of the 261st Infantry Brigade’s 6261st Battalion, was also killed in battle in the Gaza Strip.

At least 90 soldiers have been killed in action in Gaza, at the Lebanon border and in Judea and Samaria since the start of the IDF ground operation in Gaza on Oct. 27; 406 Israeli soldiers have died since the war started on Oct. 7.

Israel rejects U.N. claim

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, claimed on Tuesday that the WHO had received instructions from the IDF to “remove our supplies from our medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours, as ground operations will put it beyond use.”

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit repudiated the claim.

“The truth is that we didn’t ask you to evacuate the warehouses and we also made it clear (and in writing) to the relevant UN representatives,” it stated.

COGAT also criticized the WHO chief directly, tweeting, “[A] UN official we would expect, at least, to be more accurate.”

COGAT reported that even as the fighting continued, another 180 humanitarian aid trucks were dispatched to the international aid organizations operating in Gaza through the Rafah crossing from Egypt. The trucks carried food, water, shelter equipment and medical supplies.

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