The Israel Defense Forces said on Friday that it struck more than 450 terror targets in the Gaza Strip over the previous 24 hours, as ground battles intensified across the enclave.
The targets included Hamas tunnel shafts, observation posts and weapons depots, according to the military.
Israel Air Force drones conducted a series of strikes in the Khan Yunis area in southern Gaza that lasted several hours and killed “numerous” Hamas terrorists.
The Israeli Navy also targeted Hamas naval forces in central and southern Gaza.
The IDF on Friday announced the deaths of two additional soldiers killed the previous day, raising the military death toll of the ground offensive launched on Oct. 27 to 91.
The fatalities were named as Sgt. Maj. (res.) Kobi Dvash, 41, from Tiberias; and Master Sgt. (res.) Eyal Meir Berkowitz, 28, from Jerusalem.
Large cache of explosives seized
On Thursday, IDF troops destroyed tunnel shafts, a key part of Hamas’s underground infrastructure in Gaza, and killed significant numbers of terrorists, 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.
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.
Also Thursday, video footage and photos broadcast on Israeli TV networks showed IDF soldiers operating in the northern Gaza Strip arresting dozens of suspected Hamas terrorists.
The images showed dozens of blindfolded Palestinian men of fighting age, who apparently surrendered to Israeli troops, in their undergarments and with their hands bound.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the war in a phone call on Thursday.
According to a White House readout of the call, Biden described his concerns for hostages still being held captive in Gaza and said the Red Cross needed access to them. He acknowledged to Netanyahu that Hamas’s unwillingness to release young women was the main cause of the ceasefire breakdown on Dec. 1.
Biden and Netanyahu agreed to continue deep engagement and work towards “every possible opportunity to free the remaining hostages.”