IDF expands ground operations in Gaza ‘against Hamas centers of gravity’
Israel Defense Forces operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip when fighting resumed after a weeklong truce, Dec. 1, 2023. (Photo: IDF)

“The IDF began to work in the south of the Strip,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. “The fate of the terrorists in the Hamas battalions there will be the same and more severe than those in the north.”

By Yaakov Lappin
December 4, 2023

(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces is expanding its ground operations in the Gaza Strip to target Hamas’s “centers of gravity,” IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Monday evening.

Terrorists are surfacing from tunnels where Israeli ground forces are operating, and Israeli units are attacking them, he said.

Hagari added that many terrorists are being hit, and Israeli “forces are moving from structure to structure, tunnel to tunnel,” avoiding traps. 

In close-quarter fighting, “our forces are determined to win every battle, whether in Shuja’yya, Jabaliya and all places,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a situation assessment at the Gaza border with the commander of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, and other senior commanders.

Galant received an overview of the battles being conducted in Shuja’iyya and Jabaliya for the elimination of Hamas targets, as well as on IDF movement to the south of the Strip, the Defense Ministry said.

Since the war resumed on Dec. 1, there has been a systematic elimination of Hamas command levels in all the Hamas battalions in the Gaza City area and the north of the Strip, per the ministry.

“I arrived today at the Gaza Strip border, together with the commander of the Southern Command and the commander of Division 36, to closely observe the battles in Shuja’iyya and Jabaliya,” Gallant said. “The Golani fighters came to Shuja’iyya to close the circle. This time, they will not leave it until the complete elimination of all terror infrastructures found there.”

“Three days after the resumption of fire, the IDF is at its best,” he added. “I want to express great appreciation for the forces that have increased the pressure on the terrorists, who neutralized the commander of Shuja’iyya battalion a day ago, a despicable murderer, and continue their operation along the entire sector.”

The defense minister said that the Israeli military is operating at its best and the chief of staff “is managing things courageously.”

“This operation that is now taking place in the north of the Strip will soon lead to the breaking of the entire area of Gaza City and the north of the Strip,” Gallant stated. “At the same time, the IDF began to work in the south of the Strip. The fate of the terrorists in the Hamas battalions there will be the same and more severe than those in the north.”

“We will continue until victory and until the achievement of all goals—the elimination of Hamas and the return of the captives to the State of Israel,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, intense battles raged between the IDF and Hamas terrorist operatives in Gaza, the Israeli military said.

“During the operational activity of the 401st Brigade in the northern Gaza Strip, soldiers entered a building where they encountered Hamas terrorists who opened fire at them,” the IDF stated.

“During the battle inside the building, Sg.t 1st Class (Res.) Ben Zussman was killed, as well as Sgt. Binyamin Yehoshua Needham,” it added. “Two additional IDF soldiers were wounded. The soldiers engaged in close-quarters combat, fired at the terrorists, and eliminated them.”

Rocket barrages from Gaza targeted central Israel earlier on Monday, in addition to the Beersheva area.

IDF ground troops and the Israeli Air Force continued to operate across the Gaza Strip, striking rocket launchers, terrorist infrastructure, weapons storage facilities and eliminating Hamas terrorists.

The chief of the general staff held a situational assessment on Monday with the forces of Division 162 in the Gaza Strip, as fighting and ground maneuvering continued. He heard about lessons drawn from the battle and discussed the best ways to respond operationally, Hagari said.

In one incident during the day’s fighting, IDF ground troops identified three Hamas terrorists in their vicinity. The troops’ commander directed a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) towards the terrorists which struck and killed them.

A terrorist fired a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at IDF soldiers. The soldiers identified the terrorist and fired, killing two terrorists. IDF troops also located two terrorists who shot at them from a tunnel shaft. Israeli troops destroyed the tunnel shaft and eliminated the terrorists. 

In another incident, IDF troops directed a drone towards three terrorists identified in the area. It struck and killed them.

For the first time since its establishment in 2005, the Kfir Brigade is operating in the Gaza Strip. Kfir forces located more than 30 tunnel shafts and destroyed them, according to the military.

The Kfir Brigade is cooperating with engineering, armor and artillery forces, which are operating in the northern Gaza Strip, to defeat Hamas, the IDF said.

Hagari said 136 hostages are still being held in Gaza.

Military activities to the north

In northern Israel, IAF fighter jets and drones struck a command-and-control center, terrorist infrastructure and military sites belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon on Monday afternoon.

Israel identified launches toward the areas of Matat and Shtula in northern Israel. The projectiles fell in open areas. In response, the IDF struck the sources of the launches in Lebanese territory.

In response to mortar shell launches toward an IDF post in the area of Arab al-Aramshe, IDF soldiers struck a Hezbollah weapons storage facility in Lebanese territory.

The IDF also identified launches toward Tel Hai, Kiryat Shmona and an IDF post in the area of Shtula. The Israeli military struck the sources of the fire in Lebanon.

IDF artillery also fired towards locations inside Lebanese territory.

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