IAF jets hit Hamas’s Nuhba terror commandoes hard as hundreds of thousands of Gazans head south.
Hamas in Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar and his entire command team “are in our sights,” Israel Defense Forces international spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told journalists on Saturday.
Hecht spoke as the Israel Air Force killed Merad Abu Merad, Hamas’s head of aerial activity, in Gaza City, who it said was responsible for directing terrorists during the Oct. 7 massacre of Israelis in the western Negev.
The Israel Air Force also struck dozens of members and facilities of Hamas’s Nuhba elite terrorist commando unit that were involved in the assault on the south, in which at least 1,300 Israelis were murdered and over 130 kidnapped to the Strip, including young children and the elderly.
The IDF Rabbinate Base at Camp Shura, south of Tel Aviv, is processing enormous numbers of bodies as the identification process continues from last Saturday’s massacre, Hecht said. “These are things no one should have to see or smell,” he stated. “This is a massacre that Israel will never forget.”
Israel released images on Friday of Hamas terrorists handling babies in the south after murdering their parents.
“Yahya Sinwar is the face of evil. He is the mastermind behind this, like [Osama] bin Laden was. He built his career on murdering Palestinians when he understood they were collaborators. That’s how he became known as the butcher of Khan Younis [in southern Gaza],” said Hecht.
“That man and his whole team are in our sights. We will get to that man,” he said, adding, “This could be [a] long [campaign].”
The IDF has been calling all Gazans to evacuate the north of the Strip, and showing them two evacuation corridors. It said two evacuation corridors would be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Hamas has ordered Gazan civilians to ignore Israel’s evacuation calls. The IDF has observed Hamas vehicles driving around Gaza as the terrorist regime tries to stop civilians from leaving for safety, in order to keep them as mass human shields near their terrorist bases.
“Hamas is responsible for the conditions of the civilians. We recommend that people don’t delay. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans are heading south but Hamas is stopping many of them,” said Hecht.
“The tragedy here is that Hamas is stopping the civilians moving south. We’re looking at it, it’s their responsibility. We have notified through you [the international media], leaflets, Palestinian media. Hamas is stopping them from moving,” he added.
He defined the goal of the Israeli war effort as ensuring that Hamas can never again have the ability to repeat the mass murder of Israelis, and as dismantling Hamas’s military capabilities.
Asked how the IDF will reach Hamas in southern Gaza, he replied, “Slowly but surely. Every target will have intelligence behind it.
“We are focusing strikes on the Nuhba Unit and their assets. They were the spearhead,” said Hecht.
Meanwhile, IDF tanks killed two Palestinian terrorists approaching Kibbutz Nahal Oz near Gaza.
“We’re preparing for the next stages,” said Hecht. The IDF conducted small-scale raids near the border barrier, added. “Anyone coming near the border will be shot.”
Addressing the northern border, Hect said that the IDF is continuing to respond to events, adding that Hezbollah in Lebanon is “poking” at Israel.
The IDF’s Air Defense Array intercepted an aerial asset over Haifa on Friday night, while Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at Israel earlier in the day, prompting an Israeli artillery response.
Hecht called on the international community to pressure Hezbollah against “dragging the region into war.” He said the IDF is investigating the death of a Reuters journalist in Lebanon from Israeli fire, describing the incident as tragic.
In Judea and Samaria, the IDF thwarted 10 terrorist attacks and apprehended 220 suspects, 130 of whom are Hamas members. “We’re closely following any nationalistic crime from our side too,” said Hecht.
The IDF confirmed on Saturday night that 279 of its soldiers have been killed since Oct. 7, and that 126 abductees are being held in Gaza.
“I am thinking about five-year-old Israeli girls in Gaza right now,” said Hecht.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired more than 5,500 rockets at Israel since Oct. 7, he added.