Intense battles rage in heart of Khan Yunis

An Israeli defense delegation in U.S. reportedly discussed fast-tracking delivery of Apache helicopters to the Jewish state.

Smoke rises after Israeli air strikes in Khan Yunis as it seen from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Jan. 24, 2024.
(Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

By Yaakov Lappin
January 26, 2024

(JNS) — Intensive battles between Israel Defense Forces units and Hamas raged in Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, where the IDF struck dozens of Hamas terrorists and sites, the Israeli military said on Friday.

Recent Israeli operations include strikes by Israeli Air Force jets, acting on the direction of IDF ground troops, that hit dozens of terror targets, including command posts, weapons storage sites, observation posts and Hamas meeting points, per the IDF.

Collaboration between air and ground troops facilitated an airstrike that killed five terrorists entering a Hamas military structure, the IDF said.

The Israeli air force struck four terrorists, who shot anti-tank missiles at the IDF, and ground troops killed other terrorists in the area.

“In a separate incident, IDF troops killed six terrorists, who posed a threat to the troops, with assistance from tank and sniper fire,” the military stated.

In northern Gaza, IDF ground and air forces targeted Hamas infrastructure. Israeli jets hit a rigged building, a military site, an anti-tank missile launch post and a tunnel shaft, per the military, and ground soldiers killed several terrorists via tank fire and directed air strikes.

The Israeli Navy struck terror targets and provided fire support for ground forces on the Gazan coastline on Thursday night and into Friday morning.

The IDF said on Friday that Israel’s Border Protection Corps located some 200 tunnel shafts in Khan Yunis in recent weeks, working with the air force and ground IDF divisions and brigades.

The border corps’s Unit 636 destroyed more than 130 terror infrastructure sites, 10 rocket launchers and anti-tank missile cells and terrorists.

Israel identified launches from Lebanon toward Mount Hermon. The IDF struck the sources of those launches, which landed in open areas.

The IDF said on Friday that it struck a Hezbollah military compound in the south Lebanese area of the town Khiam on Thursday, and Israeli jets struck a Hezbollah site in the town of Bint Jbeil on Friday.

“Since this morning, IDF artillery has also struck several locations in southern Lebanon,” the Israeli military said on Friday.

The Israeli Defense Ministry announced on Thursday that Maj. Gen. (res.) Eyal Zamir, its director general, concluded a trip to Washington, during which he and his team met with counterparts at the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, and with defense companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing, to discuss securing weapons.

“The visit underscored the close cooperation between Israel and the United States since the beginning of the ongoing ‘Swords of Iron,’ war,” the ministry said.

Zamir’s meetings aligned “with preparations for evolving combat scenarios” and “focused on plans for force build-up in the upcoming multi-year strategy, including the acquisition of advanced platforms and capabilities to maintain the IDF’s qualitative military edge and readiness for diverse scenarios,” the Israeli ministry added.

“This approach integrates lessons learned from the war into strategies for obtaining military equipment,” it said.

Eyal Zamir
Maj. Gen. (res.) Eyal Zamir, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, met in Washington in January 2024 with counterparts from the U.S. Defense and State Departments and with defense company executives. (Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense)

Those discussions included an Israeli request to fast-track delivery of Apache combat helicopters to help relieve the heavy demand on the air force’s two Apache squadrons, which have operated continuously over Gaza, Ynet reported on Friday.

In meetings at the Pentagon, Israel reportedly asked the United States to earmark Apaches, which Boeing produces for the U.S. military, and divert them urgently to Israel. Israel and the United States also are said to have discussed Israel’s planned acquisition of a third F-35 fighter jet squadron from Lockheed Martin and a squadron of F-15EX jets from Boeing.

Zamir “addressed the current combat situation in Gaza and the ongoing conflict with Hezbollah in the north,” per the Israeli Defense Ministry. “Additionally, discussions focused on countering Iranian aggression seeking to harm Israel and destabilize the Middle East.”

Zamir also thanked the United States, on behalf of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the Israeli defense establishment, “for its unprecedented commitment to the State of Israel and for supporting its defense needs,” per the ministry. Washington did not publish readouts of the meetings.

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