IDF unleashes intense firepower as ground forces encircle Gaza City
Israeli forces conducting ground operations in the Gaza Strip, Nov. 5, 2023. Photo: IDF.

“The goal is to dismantle Hamas,” says IDF; Military strikes Hezbollah after civilian killed by anti-tank missile.

By Yaakov Lapin
November 5, 2023

The Israel Defense Forces launched an intensive wave of firepower strikes on Sunday night, targeting Hamas over and under the ground, as tanks and infantry completed their full encirclement of Gaza City and operated within it. 

Addressing families in mourning a month after losing more than 1,400 people in Hamas’s mass murder attack, as well as families of some 240 captives being held in Gaza, including infants and the elderly, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said: “We are not forgetting the hostages.”

He added: “We are making round-the-clock efforts as [a] top priority [is] to get them back. We set out on this war from a place of big pain and we are determined to win and bring back our loved ones.”

Hagari said that IDF ground forces, led by the Golani reconnaissance unit, have encircled Gaza City, adding, “Today there is North and South Gaza. Our forces reached the coast. We are still keeping open a safe passage corridor allowing residents of north Gaza and Gaza City to travel to the south. It’s a one-way corridor.”

The IDF’s evacuation efforts include dropping 1.5 million fliers containing messages to Gazans to move south, making almost 20,000 personal live calls, in addition to media and social-media messaging, prioritizing evacuation efforts over other missions.

Since the beginning of the Oct. 27 ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, the IDF has struck over 2,500 terror targets, Hagari said.

In the north, Israel struck Hezbollah targets in response to an anti-tank missile fired by the Iranian-backed terrorist group in Lebanon that killed an Israeli civilian who was in a vehicle in Kibbutz Yiftah, near the Lebanese border.

Earlier, a Hezbollah UAV was identified flying from deep inside Lebanon toward Israel. The UAV was tracked by Israel Air Force (IAF) detection and control systems and was successfully intercepted by the IDF Aerial Defense Array over Lebanon, the military stated.

In addition, several launches from Lebanon to Moshav Avivim in northern Israel and a projectile attack towards the area of Kibbutz Malkia were identified.

The IDF responded with artillery fire toward the sources of the fire.

On Sunday morning, following sirens in northern Israel, an interceptor was launched toward a suspicious target that crossed from Lebanon into Israel. “The IDF is in full readiness and every [enemy] squad will be killed trying to cross and every shooting incident will be struck,” said Hagari. He said the military high command has approved further plans that could be implemented, if necessary.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, soldiers from the 36th Division have struck deep in the Strip and positioned themselves along the coast, the IDF stated on Sunday.

“The role of the division is to encircle Hamas forces in Gaza City, and to strike and destroy select targets, including significant assets and command and control centers belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization,” said the military.

During the battles in Gaza, the 36th Division struck 1,600-plus targets belonging to Hamas. These include the organization’s infrastructure, weapons-storage facilities, anti-tank missile launches and observation posts, and Hamas operatives themselves.

‘Hamas built hospital on top of terror infrastructure’

Since the beginning of the war, the soldiers of the 36th Division eliminated more than 300 terrorists in operations involving artillery fire and coordination between the IAF and infantry and armored soldiers, the IDF said. “In the last 12 hours, the soldiers of the division struck around 50 targets, including combat zones, operational residences, outposts, military positions and underground infrastructure, and eliminated terrorists in close-quarter combat,” it added.

The IDF added on Sunday that it discovered rocket launchers planted in playgrounds and near children’s swimming pools, as part of Hamas’s systematical use of civilian facilities for its terror activity. “This is further proof of Hamas’s deliberate use of civilian infrastructure and civilians—including children—as human shields for its military operations,” said the military.

Hagari told journalists that “today marks 30 days of the holding of a 9-month-old hostage, named Kfir Bibas, who has now turned 10 months old. It’s unimaginable. It’s a crime against humanity.” These crimes also extend to Gazan civilians, he said. Until now more than 800 rocket launches failed and killed many Gazans, said Hagari.

Hagari said Hamas systematically uses hospitals and reiterated that Hamas operates command-and-control centers inside and under Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Sheikh Hamed Hospital, funded by Qatar and known as Qatari Hospital, north of Gaza City, was found to contain tunnel openings used for terrorism inside the facility, Hagari said, sharing images of the tunnel. “The terrorists also shoot at our soldiers from within the hospital,” Hagari said.

The Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza, between Jabaliya and Beit Hanoun, is also being used by Hamas to hide an underground control center, he said. The hospital’s founding was funded by Indonesian NGOs.

He also shared an audio recording of Hamas operatives moving fuel from Shifa Hospital to Jabaliya for terrorist activity, adding that Hamas stores fuel under hospitals while claiming hospitals are running out of fuel.

“Hamas built the hospital on top of terror infrastructure, which existed before the building of the hospital,” said Hagari, showing satellite images of the construction process in 2020.

 Cement materials and arches were only used for “building an underground city of terror,” not for hospital construction, he added. Later, the cement arches vanished from satellite surveillance. Hundreds of kilometers of tunnels have been built using such arches.

Seventy-five meters from the hospital, the IDF found a rocket launchpad aimed at Israel, knowing well that an Israeli airstrike on the launcher would damage the hospital. Hamas is weak without human shields and therefore stopping Gazans from evacuating, said Hagari.

Also on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told family members of the hostages: “We are focusing operational, intelligence and diplomatic efforts to retrieve the hostages. Hamas is absorbing difficult blows in the battlefield, and it will try to hurt us in psychological warfare in the most sensitive and painful places.”

He added that “the clear message I am sending the international community is, there will no letup in the fire without the hostages. We are examining every direction that will advance the return of the hostages. The whole defense establishment sees this as a supreme mission, and personally, there is not a moment in security discussions and decision-making that I don’t think about you and your loved ones.”

So far, the families 347 families of soldiers have been notified by the IDF.

Leave a Reply