Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar made a mistake and sealed Hamas’s fate in the Strip, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Saturday, adding that “if [Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah makes a mistake, he will determine Lebanon’s fate.”
This would have dramatic repercussions for Lebanon, Gallant warned.
The Israel Defense Forces also announced on Saturday evening that three soldiers from the Givati Infantry Brigade’s reconnaissance unit and a combat paramedic from the air force’s Shaldag commando unit were killed in Gaza.
During a security assessment held at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Gallant stated: “During the day on Saturday there were difficult battles in Gaza. We completed the encirclement of Gaza City days ago and have entered built-up areas, fighting against terrorists.”
IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the army was continuing to carry out brigade-sized raids aided by Israel Air Force strikes.
Terrorists coming out of headquarters and underground bunkers are being eliminated as the Israel Air Force and Navy continue to pound Hamas targets, along with artillery and armored units, the defense minister continued.
“The terrorists are encountering the focused power of the IDF,” said Gallant. “Many terrorists have been killed.”
Hamas battalions are being dismantled one after the other in Gaza City, he said. “Their battalion structure is eroding, and 12 Hamas battalion commanders have been eliminated. Field terrorists being killed.”
Hamas’s leadership is responsible for the mass murder attack on the western Negev that began on Oct. 7, “and will reach them all,” said Gallant. “I tell Gazan civilians if you get to the leadership before us, it’ll make the Gaza war shorter.”
Turning to the northern arena, Gallant stated that “we have no desire to reach war with Hezbollah.” He added, however, that the military can switch from its defensive posture to offense if needed.
Earlier on Saturday, Hezbollah in Lebanon fired two short-range Burkan rockets that carry very large warheads at IDF bases. There were no injuries.
The IDF responded with airstrikes in Southern Lebanon on rocket storage sites, “military” compounds and terrorist infrastructure, Hagari said.
“Hezbollah who claimed to be Lebanon’s defender ends up being the defender of Hamas-ISIS and endangers Southern Lebanon. We won’t let them use human shields just as we don’t allow Hamas in Gaza [to do so],” he said.
The families of 241 hostages held captive by terrorists in Gaza have been notified, as have the families of 345 slain soldiers, said Hagari.
The majority of the IDF soldiers killed in action died before the ground operation in Gaza began.
Responding to a question about American pressure for temporary humanitarian ceasefires, Gallant said that the United States and Israel agree on the core objective of eliminating Hamas from Gaza, as reflected by comments by visiting Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday. Other discussions are “nuances,” the minister said.
“We have many days of combat that won’t end in a day or a week. The forces know how to perform their mission. The process continues step after step with much power and professionalism. At the end of the war, there will be no more Hamas in Gaza. Israel will have full freedom of operation to act against any [terrorist] who raises his head in Gaza,” Gallant said.
‘Targeted raid’ in the southern Gaza Strip
Earlier on Saturday, Hamas terrorists attacked IDF troops who operated to open the Salah al-Din humanitarian route for the evacuation of civilians southwards, said the military. There were no IDF injuries.
Also, intelligence the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) obtained by questioning suspects led to IAF’s jets striking terrorist infrastructure located on the roof of a building and an adjacent tunnel shaft in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF also conducted what it described as a “targeted raid” in the southern Gaza Strip. The operation was a focused effort involving combat engineers and tank units led by the Gaza Division. The mission’s primary objectives were to conduct reconnaissance on structures in the area and to neutralize any hidden explosive threats.
During this operation, forces encountered a group of Hamas terrorists emerging from a tunnel, the army said. In the ensuing engagement, the IDF killed the enemy operatives.
During a visit to the 36th Armored Division’s staging area near Gaza on Friday, Gallant reviewed plans for continuing the ground operation and received reports on the elimination of terrorist squads and terrorist infrastructure.
“This is a determined, decisive operation with very strong cooperation between the ground and air forces, the sea-based firepower systems, from the air and in general, in the direction of their targets,” he said.
The IDF is striking terrorists at all ranks, from those fighting in the field to the commander level. The IDF’s operation is leading to the exposure of tunnels, to the exit of terrorists out of the tunnels and to the major strikes they suffered, Gallant said.
On Friday night, soldiers from the 13th Battalion of the Golani Infantry Brigade and the 188th Armored Brigade’s 53rd Battalion fought with a number of terrorist squads inside the Gaza Strip. The terrorists fired anti-tank missiles and activated a number of IEDs. The soldiers fought a lengthy battle with the terrorists and killed terrorists attempting to climb onto the soldiers’ vehicles, the military said.
In tandem, the forces on the ground directed aircraft and artillery strikes. The terrorists were killed and the danger to the troops was eliminated.
Also on Friday, the IAF and Shin Bet killed the commander of Hamas’s Sabra Tel al-Hawa Battalion, Mustafa Dalul, who since the beginning of the war took a central part in managing the combat against IDF troops in the Gaza Strip, said the military.
“In recent years, Dalul held a number of positions in the Hamas battalion and brigade of Gaza City,” it stated.
“In addition, IDF fighter jets and artillery, directed by ground troops, killed a number of terrorists who operated against the ground troops. During searches in the area of Beit Hanoun [in the northeastern edge of the Strip], the troops located weapons, intelligence material, an AK-47 rifle, submachine gun, magazines, grenades, explosive devices, RPG, communication means and maps,” the army said.
Overnight on Friday, IAF fighter jets struck terrorist infrastructure and killed Hamas terrorists. In parallel, the Israel Navy, directed by ground troops, struck a number of buildings from which shots were fired at soldiers and anti-tank missile launchers.
On Friday, the IDF said that in recent days, soldiers from the Infantry, Combat Engineering and Armored Corps under the command of the Givati Infantry Brigade have taken control of a military stronghold belonging to Hamas in northern Gaza.
After having taken control of the terrorist stronghold, IDF soldiers conducted extensive searches and located intelligence information that included operational orders belonging to Hamas. This also included operational maps, means of communication, command and control tables and personal details of Hamas commanders and terrorists.