newsIsrael at War

Two Israeli soldiers wounded as ground op expands in Gaza

IDF continues to expand incursion • More than 450 Hamas targets hit in 24 hours • Internet service partially restored in the Strip • Hamas call for prisoner exchange dismissed by IDF as "psychological terror."

  • Israeli forces prepare for ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF.
    Israeli forces prepare for ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF.
  • An Israeli soldier during morning prayers near the border with Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
    An Israeli soldier during morning prayers near the border with Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
  • Smoke rises after the Israel Air Forces strikes Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip Oct. 27, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
    Smoke rises after the Israel Air Forces strikes Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip Oct. 27, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
  • Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip hold up photographs outside of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Oct. 26, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
    Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip hold up photographs outside of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Oct. 26, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
  • Israelis place teddy bears in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square to call for the release of more than 200 hostages being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, Oct. 25, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.
    Israelis place teddy bears in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square to call for the release of more than 200 hostages being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, Oct. 25, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.
  • Israeli forces at a staging area near the southern border with Gaza, Oct. 24, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
    Israeli forces at a staging area near the southern border with Gaza, Oct. 24, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with soldiers from Yahalom, a special unit of the Combat Engineering Corps, at the IDF's Immanuel Base near Kiryat Malachi, Oct. 24, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with soldiers from Yahalom, a special unit of the Combat Engineering Corps, at the IDF's Immanuel Base near Kiryat Malachi, Oct. 24, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.
  • Israel Defense Forces reserve infantry and Merkava tank soldiers train in a military exercise in the Golan Heights on Oct. 23, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
    Israel Defense Forces reserve infantry and Merkava tank soldiers train in a military exercise in the Golan Heights on Oct. 23, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.

Two Israeli soldiers were wounded in separate incidents in the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday as the Israel Defense Forces continues to expand its ground operations in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

An officer was severely wounded by a mortar shell, while another soldier was moderately wounded while engaging terrorist forces, according to the IDF. Both men were evacuated to the hospital, and their families were notified.

Israeli forces killed terrorist gunmen who shot at soldiers and terrorists who were identified on the coastline of the Gaza Strip near the area of Zikim as ground operations in northern Gaza continued, the IDF said on Sunday.

Army Radio reported on Sunday that a number of terrorists came out of an underground tunnel shaft about 1,000 feet from the Erez border crossing to Israel. The army identified the terrorists and killed them in an exchange of fire. No casualties to Israeli forces were reported.

More than 450 Hamas “military” targets were hit in Gaza over the past day, including operational command centers, observation posts and anti-tank missile launch posts, according to the IDF.

Israeli troops on the ground also guided IAF aircraft to their targets, which included Hamas terrorist infrastructure, some of which contained terrorists.

Soldiers of the 52nd “The Breachers” Battalion, part of the Armored Corps’ 401st “Iron Tracks” Brigade, who entered the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday raised the Israeli flag on one of the buildings there, according to video documentation shared online.

A soldier recording his comrades raising the flag can be heard in the video saying that three weeks after the Oct. 7 massacre of Israelis by Hamas terrorists, troops “lift the flag of Israel in the heart of Gaza, along the beach. We will not forget, we will not forgive and we will not stop until victory.”

It is believed to be the first time that an Israeli flag was raised in Gaza since the 2005 disengagement.

The Israeli home front continued to face rocket fire from the Gaza Strip over the weekend, with barrages fired at greater Tel Aviv and Beersheva on Saturday.

A rocket scored a direct hit on a home in Beersheva, but no injuries were reported. Rockets also struck in the central region cities of Ramat Gan, Holon and Kiryat Ono, lightly wounding three people.

On Sunday morning, sirens sounded in Moshav Netiv Ha’asara on the northern Gaza border.

Also on Sunday morning, Internet service was partially restored in the coastal enclave after being disrupted on Friday and Saturday amid heavy Israeli bombardment, according to NetBlocks, a watchdog group that monitors cybersecurity and Internet governance.

Israel launched “Operation Swords of Iron” on Oct. 7 after Hamas invaded southern Israel, murdering at least 1,400 people, wounding more than 5,000 and taking over 200 hostages back to Gaza. According to the IDF, the families of 230 people have been notified that their loved ones are being held by Hamas.

IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari warned on Saturday that that number could still rise as the military gathers more information.

Hamas has released four hostages since Oct. 7: mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Ra’anan on Oct. 20, and Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper on Oct. 23.

‘Psychological terror cynically used by Hamas’

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar said on Saturday that the terrorist group is ready for a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

“We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner-exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance,” Sinwar said in a statement.

IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari dismissed Sinwar’s statement, saying that it was “psychological terror cynically used by Hamas to create pressure.”

“Nothing is on the table regarding the abductees,” said Hagari.

The IDF spokesperson also noted that the statement had not come directly from the Hamas leader.

“Sinwar can’t issue statements; he speaks through intermediaries. Hamas doesn’t communicate directly with Israel,” he said.

Israel, he added, “will continue all efforts—both civilian and intelligence-based—to retrieve the hostages.”

Israel holds Sinwar directly responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre, along with Hamas “military wing” chief Muhammad Deif.

The IDF on Sunday published a list of the high-ranking Hamas terrorists killed by Israeli forces since Oct. 7.

Dee family murderer’s home demolished

The IDF on Saturday night destroyed the home of one of the Hamas terrorists who carried out the shooting attack in the Jordan Valley in April that claimed the lives of three members of the Dee family.

Forces demolished the apartment of Hamas operative Hassan Qatnani in the Askar camp on the outskirts of Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria.

Lucy Dee, 48, and daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 15, were shot and killed on April 7 while driving on Route 57 near the Hamra Junction. Qatnani and fellow shooter Moaz al-Masri, along with a third Palestinian gunman, were killed in an Israeli raid in Shechem in early May.

IAF strikes Hezbollah in Lebanon

Israel Air Force planes attacked Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Saturday night in response to attacks on Israeli territory by the Iranian terrorist proxy, the army said.

A “military” compound and observation posts were destroyed, according to the IDF, which provided video of the strikes.

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