The Israel Defense Forces offensive against Hamas’s tunnel network in the southern Gaza Strip is yielding results, with many Hamas terrorists killed and the group’s command and control capabilities sustaining severe damage, the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday.
During operations in the Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis, troops from the 4th “Kiryati” (reserve) Armored Brigade located and destroyed hundreds of feet of tunnels, and five members of Hamas’s elite Nukhba squad surrendered to the 55th “Tip of the Spear” (reserve) Paratroopers Brigade, the IDF said.
The terrorists told interrogators that many Hamas operatives, including two company commanders from the Khan Yunis Brigade, have been killed in Israel’s attacks on underground infrastructure.
“We have killed many dozens of terrorists, including Nukhba operatives and company commanders,” Col. Miki Sharvit, commander of the 4th Brigade, stated.
“During the activity in the area, we discovered underground tunnels such as the one used by terrorists on Oct. 7,” he added, of Khan Yunis. “We developed a dedicated method to find and terminate the enemy in the underground—to damage the infrastructure, neutralize the enemy and maintain the security of our forces.”
After an assessment on the Israeli-Gazan border on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that Palestinian terrorists “who started counting down until the IDF’s departure from Gaza need to change the count until the end of their lives.”
“In the south of the Gaza Strip, the operation is intense and it is getting stronger, above ground and below ground,” Gallant said.
In central Gaza, fighting is “intense,” while forces in the north are “completing the current mission,” he added. But in the northern Strip, the IDF is “reorganizing with the intention of carrying out raids and airstrikes soon,” according to the defense minister.
The IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) announced on Thursday the killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad northern Gaza chief Mamdouh Lolo in an airstrike. Lolo planned “countless attacks” by the Iran-backed group against Israeli civilians and soldiers, the army said.
Two soldiers from the Kfir Infantry Brigade sustained severe wounds during fighting in the southern Strip on Thursday, and three soldiers were wounded on Wednesday, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Thursday night.
Since Hamas launched its war against the Jewish state on Oct. 7, the Israeli Air Force’s Unit 669 combat search and rescue unit has evacuated more than 1,000 troops from the battlefield, Hagari said.
On Thursday, Palestinian terrorists fired an anti-aircraft missile at an IDF rescue helicopter. The missile missed and hit a medical clinic in Kibbutz Nirim near the Gaza border, with no injuries reported, per local media.
Throughout the day, Hamas continued to launch rockets at southern Israeli cities and towns, triggering air-raid sirens in Ashkelon, Sderot, Nir Am, Ibim, Yad Mordechai, Karmia, Netiv HaAsara, Zikim and Mavki’im.
Addressing the press on Thursday evening, Hagari revealed that three Israelis declared missing since Oct. 7 are now confirmed to be held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. The announcement brings the total number of hostages to 136, although not all of them are believed to be alive.
One of the hostages was named Hanan Yavlonka, a 42-year-old father of two who survived the Nova music festival massacre on Oct. 7, Israel’s Ynet reported. At the request of the families, the names of the two other hostages were not made public.