IDF steps up Gaza combat in Zaytun and Jabalya
Israeli soldiers in the Shati Camp, the northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 16, 2023 Photo: Sindel/Flash90.

Hanegbi: “Thousands of terrorists were killed. Senior commanders in the terror organizations will never again commit monstrous acts of horror.”

By Yaakov Lapin
November 18, 2023

The Israeli Defense Forces announced on Saturday that it intensified military operations in the Gaza Strip, notably in the Zaytun Quarter of Gaza City’s Old City, and in Jabalya, north of the city.

The IDF’s 36th Armored Division focused on neutralizing Hamas’s Zaytun Battalion in Gaza City, while the 162nd Armored Division targeted areas around Jabalya, where the command center of the Hamas Northern Gaza Brigade and significant terror strongholds are located, according to the IDF. Four Hamas battalions are operating in Jabalya, the military stated.

The divisions’ engineering, infantry and armored forces, assisted by the Israeli Air Force, engaged terrorists who operated from within civilian areas and attacked the Israeli troops using anti-tank missiles and explosive devices, the IDF added.

“During the encounters, numerous terrorists were killed and the troops struck a large number of terror infrastructures, including underground infrastructure and significant targets of the terrorist organization,” said the IDF.

Also on Saturday, the army overtook and destroyed a major weapon production post belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, confiscating a substantial cache of weapons and intelligence materials.

An anti-tank missile attack against IDF troops was successfully repelled, with the terrorist cell neutralized by a helicopter strike.


In Lebanon on Saturday, the IDF struck Hezbollah targets following repeated attacks on northern Israel.

This included strikes on military compounds, operational command centers and posts in response to hostile actions, including surface-to-air missile attacks and direct fire towards Israeli territory, the military said.

The IDF Aerial Defense Array intercepted a suspicious target in Lebanon on Saturday evening.

In addition, numerous launches were identified from Lebanon towards IDF posts. In response, IDF tanks and aircraft struck a number of Hezbollah observation posts.

Shifa Hospital

On Friday, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, IDF international spokesman, highlighted the discovery of a tunnel shaft near Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital as focused military action in that area continues.

The shaft was within the parameter of the hospital, said Hecht. The IAF’s elite Shaldag ground unit is working on uncovering the Hamas compound at Shifa and found a vehicle in the area storing AK-47 rifles and RPG launchers. Claymore mines and grenades were also found, he said.

The IDF sent a small robot into the shaft and filmed electricity lines running down the walls and a staircase underground, said Hecht.

“Everybody was expecting the big Hamas headquarters. This is going to take time,” Hecht said.

The Seventh Armored Brigade, which is securing the hospital perimeter, brought in water for local civilians, together with the Shaldag unit.

A senior doctor serving in Shaldag found a man at Shifa Hospital with heart problems and provided medical treatment, Hecht said.

“We haven’t gone into the emergency wing yet. We’re focusing surgically, but now that we found this tunnel that’s where we’re putting a lot of our efforts there. Mainly combat engineering and K-9 units,” he added.

140 trucks a day

Col. Elad from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit emphasized Israel’s commitment to minimizing the impact on Gazan civilians, despite Hamas’s strategy of placing military assets in civilian areas. He outlined extensive humanitarian initiatives, including the delivery of medical supplies, water and food, the establishment of evacuation routes, and the provision of shelters for displaced civilians.

“According to our numbers, more than 1,400 trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered Gaza since October 21. This is a huge number. I want all of us to remember that we started with 20 trucks [per day] and now we’re up to 140. Our security mechanism has the ability to significantly increase the number of trucks entering Gaza, contingent on U.N. and other international aid logistics. We will allow access to support the population that does not want to be part of terror,” he stated.


On Friday, the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) undertook a joint operation in the Balata Camp, on the outskirts of Nablus in Samaria, using an aircraft to target a prominent terrorist, Muhammad Zahed. This operation disrupted planned terror activities and dismantled an explosives production facility, the IDF said.

The forces dismantled an explosives production facility in Balata where a number of ready-to-use explosive devices were identified. Furthermore, an engineering vehicle exposed explosive devices that were concealed underneath and on the sides of the road, intended to harm the forces. During the activity, terrorists fired at the forces, who responded with live fire. No IDF injuries were reported.

The end of Hamas

On Friday, National Security Council and the National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, speaking from IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, stated, “We are today three weeks from the moment the ground maneuver began, 21 days in which our warriors have paid a heavy price, but we are now in the heart of Gaza City, striking all the places we wanted to strike or eliminate.

“Thousands of terrorists were killed. Senior commanders in the terror organizations will never again commit monstrous acts of horror. All the operational targets that the Cabinet approved, in fact unanimously, when the maneuver targets were presented before it, are achieved one by one, from the first to the last,” Hanegbi said.

The end of the campaign “is in fact the end of Hamas. We will not stop until all the military capabilities and all the governmental capabilities of Hamas and of the PIJ are eliminated,” he added.

“The second and important thing for all of us is the issue of releasing the captives,” said Hanegbi. “We have stood for long weeks in the face of immense international pressures for a ceasefire, for humanitarian pauses, and all without releasing captives. And the prime minister insisted, both in his conversations with President Biden and with all the leaders, and around him all the ministers of the cabinet united, that this thing is not possible,” Hanegbi continued.

“Therefore, we are on day 42 of the fighting, and we did not agree to order the IDF soldiers to stop the advance towards achieving the goals, even for a minute. The main rule is — when we know that it is possible to release captives, and not a manipulative release and not a release for the public relations of Hamas, but a massive release of our captives, only then will we agree to a ceasefire. Even that will be very short, because after it we will continue in achieving the war goals, one of which as mentioned is also the continued campaign to release captives,” he said.

He added that the War Cabinet responded to a request from the United States to provide two fuel tankers a day for the sewage treatment facilities in the Gaza Strip, which are facing collapse due to lack of electricity and UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency)’s inability to operate the sewerage and water systems.

“The decision was that we want to prevent the spread of epidemics. We currently do not need epidemics that will harm the civilians there and also our fighters there, if there will be epidemics—the fighting will stop,” said Hanegbi. “We will not be able to continue fighting under conditions of a humanitarian crisis and outcry all over the world,” Hanegbi said.

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