Israeli defense officials: Hamas’s tunnel network in Gaza 100 miles longer than previously thought, with over 5,700 entry shafts • IDF death toll in Gaza rises to 190.
By Joshua Marks
January 17, 2024
(JNS) — Israeli forces continued to target terrorists and infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, over the past 24 hours eliminating a Hamas interrogation chief and destroying a launch site used to fire rockets at Netivot.
Bilal Nofal, a Hamas operative responsible for interrogating individuals suspected of involvement in espionage activities against the terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip, was killed in an airstrike, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Nofal also played a role in advancing Hamas’s research and development efforts.
“His elimination significantly impacts the terrorist organization’s capacity to develop and enhance its capabilities,” the IDF said.
Furthermore, Israeli forces on Tuesday located the site from which, earlier in the day, terrorists launched a massive barrage of over 50 rockets at the southern Israeli city of Netivot.
Footage shared to social media showed some two dozen interceptions by the Iron Dome air defense system. Israeli media reported that one rocket struck a store in Netivot and another hit a warehouse in the adjacent community of Givolim, causing damage.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Troops found three launchers, each with ten barrels, several of which were loaded with rockets. The compound and launchers were destroyed.
In the Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, troops directed a helicopter to kill three terrorists who escaped to a building after firing mortar shells at the soldiers.
Additionally, two terrorists were killed and a large amount of weapons were found in the outskirts of Sheikh Ijlin in central Gaza.
Israeli naval forces also struck several Hamas targets on Tuesday night.
Two soldiers slain in Gaza
The Israeli military death toll rose to 190 since the Gaza ground campaign began on Oct. 27 with the announcement on Wednesday of the deaths of two more soldiers.
Master Sgt. (res.) Zechariah Pesach Haber, 32, from Jerusalem, and Sgt. Maj. (res.) Yair Katz, 34, from Holon, were killed in battle in northern Gaza on Tuesday.
The death toll on all fronts since the war began on Oct. 7 stands at 525.
Hamas tunnels hundreds of miles longer than thought
Hamas’s network of terror tunnels in the Gaza Strip is even more extensive than previously thought, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing senior Israeli defense officials, with new assessments indicating it has upwards of 5,700 entry shafts.
In the wake of intensive combat operations in Khan Yunis in recent weeks, Israel now believes the Islamist group built between 350 and 450 miles of subterranean terror infrastructure, up from a previous estimate of 250 miles.
While the figure could not be verified, the Times called Israel’s updated intelligence assessment “extraordinary,” especially given the fact that the Gaza Strip is only some 25 miles long by (at its broadest point) seven miles wide.