Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the “next stage has begun” for the military in the northern Strip, noting “significant findings” at Shifa Hospital.
By Yaakov Lappin
November 16, 2023
(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces’s next step in its operations may be to go south from its current focal point of Gaza City and northern Gaza, where it completed its operations ensuring that the Hamas terror group will not be able to reposition itself in Gaza City.
The IDF dispatched leaflets on Thursday to residents of areas east of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, urging them to move to humanitarian zones, according to international media reports.
Part of the IDF’s war effort has also been to destroy underground bunkers, tunnel shafts and the tunnels themselves.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on a visit to the headquarters of Division 36, which is operating at Shifa Hospital, that the IDF has discovered “significant findings” at the hospital.
“In recent days, we have completed the conquest of and mopping up the western part of Gaza City. The next stage has begun,” he added. “Forces are working accurately, with determination, decisively and with close coordination with air, sea and ground forces, accompanied by very strong intelligence that envelops them.”
The more the offensive deepens, the more Hamas will be under pressure, and its bunkers, tunnels and terror operatives and commanders will be eliminated, Gallant said.
That will increase the chances of retrieving the 239 people Hamas terrorists abducted from the south.
“This is the enemy, and it only understands force,” Gallant said. “We are explaining to it very well what force is.”
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents have left Gaza City and its surrounding area in the northern part of the coastal enclave in recent weeks, despite Hamas’s efforts to prevent masses from heeding Israeli evacuation calls. Hamas is using the tens of thousands who remain as human shields.
Threats from Hezbollah in Lebanon
On Thursday, Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including military posts operated by Hezbollah terrorists.
Israeli soldiers also struck a terrorist in Lebanese territory adjacent to the area of Shlomi in northern Israel.
The Israeli defense establishment continues to be on high alert in the north—on guard for the potential escalation of the conflict with Hezbollah, as well as with its Iranian backer. That scenario could turn the Gaza war into a regional armed conflict.
Some 60,000 Israelis who live in the north remain internally displaced as Hezbollah anti-tank terror squads remain positioned near the northern border, despite dozens of Hezbollah casualties from Israeli airstrikes since Oct. 7.
Israeli forces found information and footage of hostages, whom Hamas terrorists kidnapped, on computers and other technological equipment at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, an IDF official said Thursday. Israeli experts are examining and investigating those items.
The IDF’s operation at Shifa is shaped by its understanding that there is well-hidden terrorist infrastructure in the complex.
IDF soldiers from the Shaldag special forces unit and forces under the command of the 36th Division continue to operate in the hospital complex in Gaza City, the official said.
After searching some buildings in the hospital complex, the IDF has located weapons and intelligence materials, including information related to the events of Oct. 7.
“It is important to emphasize that from the moment the IDF publicly exposed the use of hospitals for terrorist activity a few weeks ago, Hamas has persistently worked to conceal infrastructure and cover up evidence,” the official said. “This operation is complex and ongoing, with new information coming to light continuously.”
Earlier on Thursday, the military said that soldiers of the 188th Armored Brigade and Flotilla 13 naval commandos took operational control of the Gaza harbor, which Hamas had held.
Ten terror tunnel shafts and four structures for terror were destroyed and 10 terrorists killed in the joint operation, in which soldiers of the Combat Engineering Corps and the Air Force also participated.
The Israeli military cleared all the buildings in the harbor area.
Under the guise of a civilian harbor, Hamas has used the harbor as a training facility for naval commando forces to plan and execute naval terror attacks, all the while using civilian and Gaza harbor police vessels, per the IDF.
Overnight on Thursday, Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck the residence of Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’s political bureau, which was used as terrorist infrastructure and often served as a meeting point for senior Hamas leaders to direct terror attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.