In what is one of the most crucial targeted killings of senior Hamas terrorists since the start of war on Oct. 7, an Israeli Air Force fighter jet struck and killed Muhammad A’sar, the head of Hamas’s Anti-Tank Missile Unit in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces announced.
“A’sar was responsible for all of Hamas’s anti-tank missile units throughout the Gaza Strip, commanded the units in routine and assisted their activity in emergencies,” said the IDF. “Under his command, numerous anti-tank missile attacks were carried out against civilians and IDF soldiers.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement on Wednesday: “We are at the height of the war. Intense battles are being waged in built-up areas in Gaza City. IDF soldiers are fighting with courage and determination as they display commitment to their mission.”
Gallant said the IDF is making progress towards defeating Hamas. “War has a heavy price,” he said, sending condolences to the growing list of Israeli families who have lost soldiers as a result of the fighting.
The IDF has fired more than 10,000 rounds of various ammunition at targets in Gaza City, he said, and thousands of targets have been destroyed, as well as thousands of terrorists killed—from the field level to the highest level. “The war is advancing in line with the objectives,” he Gallant.
Meanwhile, the IDF announced that since the Friday ground offensive began, 15 soldiers have been killed in action. It named Sgt. 1st Class (res.) Shalev Zion Sharabi, 22, a combat medic in the 749th Battalion of the Bislamach Brigade from Teneh Omarim, as one of the casualties on Wednesday.
Sharabi was killed by mortar fire near the southern community of Be’eri.
Rocket barrages from Gaza continued to be fired at central and southern Israel.
Meanwhile, the northern arena appeared to escalate to a certain degree throughout the day, as IDF ground forces advanced further into northern Gaza and towards Gaza City.
Following sirens that sounded in Moshav Shtula in northern Israel, numerous mortar launches were identified towards the area on Wednesday evening. The mortar shells fell in open areas and no injuries were reported, said the IDF, adding that the IAF identified and struck the cell that launched the shells.
In addition, terrorist cells that attempted to launch anti-tank missiles from Lebanon towards Israeli territory in the area of Shtula were struck by an IDF tank, the military said.
It reported earlier on Wednesday that “numerous mortar launches were identified a short while ago towards the area of Shomera in northern Israel. No injuries were reported. The IDF is firing toward the origins of the launches.”
‘The focus is on Gaza’
The IDF also released new video of a Hamas terrorist who was captured on Oct. 7, in which he stated that after he and a fellow terrorist passed by a safe room in a southern community and heard the sounds of children crying, they opened fire at the room’s door until the cries went silent.
The terrorist later told his interrogator that Hamas’s actions were “worse than ISIS.”
The IDF also shared an intercepted call between the Hamas deputy commander of the Jabaliya Battalion and a Gazan resident in which they discussed stealing fuel from the Indonesian Hospital.
“The focus is on Gaza; that’s where the hostages are, that’s where Hamas is. After 20 days, we went to ground offensive phase,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, told journalists on a video call on Wednesday.
The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force appears to still be on the ground in Lebanon as clashes between Hezbollah and Israel continue,
Quds Force Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani reportedly arrived in Beirut on Oct. 8, left for consultations on Oct. 16 and then returned on Oct. 20, where he has remained in Lebanon ever since.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is due to make a televised address on Friday. Earlier on Wednesday, a terrorist cell attempted to launch anti-tank missiles from Lebanon towards Israeli territory in the Zar’it area. An IDF tank struck the cell.
Additionally, terrorists opened fire a short while ago from Lebanon towards Israeli territory in the Yiftah area. No injuries were reported. They responded with fire in the direction of the shooting.
‘In a vast underground complex’
Hagari stated on Wednesday morning that Israeli forces continue to significantly expand ground operations in the Gaza Strip.
“In northern Gaza, during the night, significant battles took place, one of which was conducted surrounding a multi-story building in the area of Jabaliya from which terrorists shot at our forces. This building, like many locations that Hamas terrorists use as shelter, is a civilian structure, located in close proximity to a school, medical center and government offices. IDF soldiers directed aircraft to strike the threat, eliminating the terrorists,” he said.
“As we published yesterday, we eliminated the Commander of the Jabaliya Battalion, Ibrahim Biari. He was a murderous commander who was responsible for a significant area from which the terrorists emerged to carry out the massacre in Israel on October 7th, but beyond his leadership of that, he was a senior terrorist who has been the dominant leader of their military activity during this war in northern Gaza. We have killed him,” Hagari stated.
Biari was killed while situating himself inside the Jabaliya Camp with dozens of additional terrorists around him in the same area, which contains a headquarters and other operational facilities located in buildings within the civilian camp, according to the IDF spokesperson.
The airstrike caused the collapse of the buildings compound within the civilian camp. The strike on the compound additionally caused the collapse of the underground military infrastructure, including terror tunnels under the camp, which further caused the collapse of additional structures, he added.
“These once again demonstrate how murderous terrorists use civilians as a ‘human shield’, civilians whom we have called upon to evacuate for their own safety. This is a cynical tactic that they have, and will continue, to employ. During the fighting, [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar and all of Hamas’s senior officials are attempting to manufacture images of a destroyed Gaza and dead Gazans at the hands of Israel and the IDF,” he said.
Hamas is bringing disaster to Gaza, Hagari emphasized, adding that IDF soldiers are heroically fighting on the battlefield and eliminating terrorists.
‘Iranian tentacles affected by their aggression’
IDF International Spokesperson, Lt. Col. (Res.) Jonathan Conricus addressed the targeting of Hamas Battalion Commander Ibrahim Biari in Jabaliya, saying on Tuesday night, he was a senior and important Hamas combatant. “His military significance is what he was doing now and what he did in his recent and distant past,” said Conricus.
“His history as a terrorist goes back to 2004 when he masterminded a terror attack in Ashdod that killed 13 Israelis,” he stated. “We understood he was in a vast underground complex. We struck that complex. It is our assessment that dozens of Hamas combatants were with him and the underground complex collapsed, causing them to die, and many reports of collateral damage and noncombatant injuries. This was a strike on a military target and to obtain our military objectives,” said Conricus. “In terms of the results, we’ll listen to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry releases, reports from the Indonesian Hospital and others, and cross-reference it with what Hamas admits clandestinely. As we know more, we will say more.”
He stressed that “we have called on civilians to leave this area for almost two weeks, in written form in leaflets numerous times, radio and social media. We have been in direct contact with U.N. agencies to get across to civilians that this is a war zone, and that is why we don’t want civilians there. I’m happy to see many have evacuated themselves from the area, and I hope all noncombatants in northern Gaza will make the right decision to go to the humanitarian zone northwest of Khan Yunis. I do not claim these are perfect conditions, but they are much better than the war zone that northern Gaza now is.”
The airstrike targeted an area in between buildings because the target was the underground complex underground, Conricus stated.
It occurred as ground troops were operating in Jabaliya and in other locations of the Gaza Strip. “We perform joint combat there is close air support for ground forces as they advance create friction with enemy use air assets to strike,” he stated.
Conricus said the IDF remains highly vigilant on all borders and arenas. He did note that the latest Red Alerts in Eilat, at Israel’s southernmost point, caused 40,000 people to seek shelter.
“Time will tell how the Iranian tentacles will be affected by their aggression against us,” said Conricus.
On Tuesday, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories Unit announced on Tuesday night that at the request of the U.S. administration, and in accordance with instructions from the political echelon, 70 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing in Egypt. The aid includes only water, food and medical equipment. All the equipment was inspected by Israeli security personnel before it entered Gaza.
“This is part of Israel’s response to the U.S. administration’s request not to block humanitarian supplies from Egypt as long as it includes food, water and medicine for the civilians who are located in the southern Gaza Strip or are being evacuated to it, and as long as such supplies are not reaching Hamas. The transfer, the source and the destination of the aid are monitored by Israel,” said COGAT in a statement. “Any other attempt to provide supplies not coordinated with and approved by Israel will be blocked.”
In the north, the IDF continues with a high level of readiness to provide a strong defensive and offensive response, said Hagari. “This is also seen in the wide-scale defensive deployment of the IDF in the Northern Command, which has continued the same way it has throughout the war,” he said. “Every terrorist cell that comes to the area or tries to infiltrate Israel or shoot at our territory will be stopped and eliminated. Every terrorist cell—and we will continue to do so. The Air Force maintains a very high level of readiness and deployment, and the Intelligence Directorate is ready and watching the north for every scenario.”
South of Eilat in the Red Sea, the IDF once again intercepted an aerial threat detected on Tuesday night. Hagari said on Wednesday morning regarding that incident: “There was no ultimate threat to civilians, as there was no entry into Israeli airspace. We maintain a high level of readiness in this arena as well. We have sent additional Israeli Navy vessels to provide significant defense of the area, and layered strike capabilities with defensive layers and the air force. We are prepared to defend this arena as in every arena in Israel.”
Regarding the option of retaliating for the attack by Houthis in Yemen, Hagari stated that “we know how to gather at the time and place of our choosing in relation to the security interests of Israel wherever needed.”
To date, the IDF notified the families of 240 hostages.