The combat in the Hamas stronghold is expected to last at least several days.
By Akiva Van Koningsveld
January 22, 2024
(JNS) — Israel Defense Forces troops are engaged in a massive military assault against Hamas targets in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, killing more than 50 terrorists, including a Hamas company commander, the military said on Monday evening.
The combat inside the city — preceded by airstrikes on Sunday night and includes parts of the IDF’s Givati Infantry Brigade, 7th Armored Brigade, paratroopers and commando forces — is expected to last at least several days.
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza and one of the masterminds of the Oct. 7 massacre of some 1,200 persons in Israel, is believed to be hiding in Khan Yunis, as is Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades “military wing.”
Israeli forces are surrounding the terror hotspot and steadily advancing towards “the center of gravity” of Hamas’s Khan Yunis Brigade, wrote Ynet, describing it as Sinwar and Deif’s “home brigade.”
Ahead of the battle, civilian homes were marked to avoid collateral damage, Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster reported. Palestinian civilians have started to leave western Khan Yunis due to “heavy Israeli bombing,” Arab media said.
Earlier on Monday, the army said that soldiers of the Kfir Infantry Brigade operating in Bani Suheila, east of Khan Yunis, killed dozens of armed Hamas terrorists and discovered large numbers of firearms, explosive devices, grenades and rockets.
As Israeli troops moved to surround western Khan Yunis on Sunday night, the Kfir Brigade was pulled out of Gaza for rest and training and was replaced with other units, the IDF said.
Three IDF soldiers fell in battle during fighting in southern Gaza, the IDF announced on Monday night. The troops were named as Maj. David Nati Alfasi, 27, from Beersheva; Maj. Ilay Levy, 24, from Tel Aviv; and Capt. Eyal Mevorach Twito, 22, from Beit Gamliel.
Their deaths bring the number of military personnel killed since Oct. 7 on all fronts to 535. A total of 200 soldiers have died in the Strip since the start of ground operations there on Oct. 27.
During a meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv earlier on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant briefed his French counterpart on the IDF’s progress in achieving the war objectives, Gallant’s office said.
Gallant said he emphasized to French Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu that the IDF would continue its offensive until it achieves “the goals of the war—namely the destruction of Hamas’s governing and military capabilities, and the return of the hostages.”
The Israel defense minister during the meeting with Lecornu also highlighted the “important role” Paris plays in preventing further escalation by Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, according to the readout on the meeting from Jerusalem.
‘No limit to the amount of humanitarian aid’
During a separate meeting with Lecornu on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought up a Paris-brokered deal under which medicines destined for Israeli hostages, but most of which ended up serving Hamas terrorists, entered the Gaza Strip late last week.
Netanyahu said he is still awaiting evidence that the medicines reached the Israeli hostages, and stressed that the implementation of the agreement must be monitored, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
According to official Israeli figures, 136 hostages are still being held in Gaza out of 240 taken during the Hamas massacre on Oct. 7, although many are believed to be dead. Egypt and Qatar helped broker a deal in November that saw the release of more than 100 hostages before Hamas violated the terms of the agreement.
Since the war began on Oct. 7, some 12,000 trucks with 1,052 tons of medical equipment have entered Gaza, the IDF said on Monday.
On Sunday alone, 260 trucks with humanitarian aid entered Gaza with Israeli permission, in what the Civil Administration of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit said was the highest number of daily shipments since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.
“There is no limit to the amount of humanitarian aid that can enter the Gaza Strip,” tweeted COGAT.