The number of Israelis murdered during Hamas’s invasion of the south over the weekend rose to 1,200 on Wednesday morning, as the Israel Defense Forces continued to pummel Palestinian terror assets in the Gaza Strip.
Overnight Tuesday, the Israel Air Force hit more than 200 targets in Gaza City’s Al Furqan neighborhood, which it called “a terror nest for Hamas” from which “many activities against Israel are carried out.”
It was Israel’s third strike in the area in the past 24 hours, according to the military.
The IDF also said that fighter jets targeted the Islamic University of Gaza in Gaza City, which since its establishment in 1978 has acted as an important center of power for Hamas.
The school is used to promote incitement against Israel and train terrorists in a variety of fields, including weapons manufacturing and military intelligence, the army said.
The IDF “will continue to act powerfully against the infrastructures of the terrorist organization Hamas, which aim terror against Israel, and continues extensive waves of attacks in the Gaza Strip,” it added.
Among the more than 2,450 Hamas targets that have been hit across the Strip in five days of war were weapons storage facilities, command and control centers and naval assets, according to the military.
The operational headquarters of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization’s rocket force was also attacked.
“We have released all restraints, regained control of the [border] area and are moving to full offense,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops during a visit to the south on Tuesday night.
“You will have the ability to change the reality here. You have seen the price paid. Hamas wanted a change in Gaza. It will change 180 degrees from what it thought,” the minister said. “They will regret this moment. Gaza will never return to what it was. Whoever comes to decapitate, murder women, Holocaust survivors—we will eliminate them with all our might and without compromise.”
On Wednesday, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that over the past 24 hours, Israeli forces had killed 18 Palestinian terrorists who had infiltrated Israeli territory during Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault.
“These are the same terrorists who did not flee back to Gaza. They are in hiding places near the border. That’s why the scans are being conducted, and there are tens of thousands of troops in the area surrounding the Strip,” said Hagari.
The IDF said on Tuesday that some 1,500 Palestinian terrorists had been killed in Israel since Hamas launched its cross-border raid.
Hamas terrorists had plans to conquer and hold the Israeli border communities, “not raid and return to Gaza,” added Hagari.
The IDF spokesperson confirmed that Hamas has fired some 5,000 rockets at Israel since the war broke out, targeting the south and center of the country.
On Wednesday afternoon, at least six Israelis sustained minor injuries when a rocket hit Ashkelon, the Magen David Adom medical emergency response group said. MDA evacuated the victims to the city’s Barzilai Medical Center.
Rocket barrages also targeted the central region, sending residents of Tel Aviv and nearby cities to bomb shelters on two occasions.
According to Hagari, the IDF has defined killing senior Hamas terrorists as the military’s “top priority.”
Palestinian sources reported on Wednesday that Abdel-Fattah Diab Deif, the brother of Hamas military commander Muhammad Deif, was killed in an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip.
Overnight Monday, Hamas “Economy Minister” Jawad Abu Shamala was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Abu Shamala managed the finances of the organization and earmarked the funds for financing and directing terrorism both inside and outside the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.
He previously held security positions in the terrorist organization and led several operations aimed at harming citizens of the State of Israel, the army added.
Zakaria Abu Muammar, a senior member of the Hamas political bureau who headed the terrorist group’s National Relations Office, was killed in a separate strike.
“Abu Muammar was known to be close to [Hamas leader in Gaza] Yahya Sinwar and, as part of his position, worked to incite and act against the sovereignty of the State of Israel and endanger its residents,” the IDF noted.
The northern front
The military is simultaneously reinforcing Israel’s northern frontier, after Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group took responsibility on Tuesday evening for firing anti-tank missiles at the Jewish state.
An IDF attack helicopter responded by striking a Hezbollah post.
“The IDF is prepared for all scenarios in all arenas, and will continue to operate in order to protect Israeli civilians,” stated the military.
Earlier on Tuesday, the IDF attacked two Hezbollah observation posts in Southern Lebanon with artillery fire after terrorists there fired rockets into Israel.
“Around 15 launches were detected from Lebanese territory. Air-defense systems successfully intercepted four launches, 10 launches fell in Lebanese territory,” the IDF confirmed.
Reuters cited a Lebanese security source as saying that Palestinian terror groups were responsible for the rocket attacks.
Mortar shells were also fired at Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights on Tuesday evening.
On Monday, a senior IDF officer and two enlisted men were killed in a firefight with terrorists who infiltrated Israeli territory from Southern Lebanon. Five additional Israeli troops were wounded in the attack, the army said.
Two of the infiltrators were killed, with a third fleeing back to Lebanon, according to the military.
Following the incident, IDF attack helicopters struck targets in Southern Lebanon as Israeli residents near the border fence were instructed to remain in their homes, with their doors locked and lights out.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday night gave a 10-minute televised speech in which he addressed the “unadulterated evil” of Hamas’s attack on Israel.
“The brutality of Hamas, the bloodthirstiness, brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS. This is terrorism, but sadly for the Jewish people, it’s not new,” said Biden.
“They use Palestinian civilians as human shields,” he said of Hamas, which has said that it will execute captives, “in violation of every code of human morality.”
The U.S. president distinguished between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and the Palestinian people, saying, “Hamas doesn’t stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to head to Jerusalem on Wednesday.
According to the State Department, Blinken will “reaffirm the United States’ solidarity with the government and people of Israel. He will also discuss measures to bolster Israel’s security and underscore the United States’ unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself.”
An American cargo plane delivering an initial shipment of advanced weaponry arrived in Israel on Tuesday night.
The Pentagon announced on Sunday that it was sending “additional equipment and resources, including munitions” to the Israel Defense Forces, while redirecting a Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean.
The strike group consists of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the world’s largest aircraft carrier and the newest in the U.S. fleet, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and four Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyers.
“We have also taken steps to augment U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Oct. 8.
On Tuesday night, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with the families of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.
“I have just finished a deeply moving and painful meeting with the families of those who have been abducted and are missing in the terrible assault that Israel has endured,” said Herzog.
“I met those who do not know the fate of their loved ones and those who know that they are in the hands of a cruel and brutal enemy. It was a difficult and painful meeting, but even so, we saw the strong, amazing spirit of the families—and Israeli society as a whole—in full force,” he added.
Hamas has claimed to have captured more than 100 Israelis and taken them back to the Strip.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, tapped by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as coordinator for the captives and the missing, delivered a message to Israelis on Monday that he will do everything he can to return their loved ones to them.
“During these hours, we are engaged in the formation of a complete situational picture,” he said, adding his team is working with all speed to create an “effective array” to address the families’ concerns.