Tel Aviv: Israel has intensified its ground and air offensive in the Gaza Strip, capturing a key road junction and killing several Hamas commanders and fighters. The Israeli army said it was aiming to destroy the network of tunnels and buildings used by Hamas to launch attacks on Israel.
According to Israel-based i24 News, Israeli tanks reached the Salah al-Din road, which connects Gaza City to Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip, on Monday. The road is a strategic artery for the movement of people and goods in the enclave. Gaza-based channels reported seeing Israeli tanks at the Netzer intersection in Gaza City, a strategic point inside the territory.
The Israeli military said that its forces, directed by combat helicopters and drones, attacked Hamas positions and anti-tank missile launchers in the past few hours. It also said that it eliminated several senior Hamas commanders and operatives, including Jamil Baba, commander of the naval forces in the central camps, Muhammad Safadi, commander of the anti-tank formation in the Tafa battalion, and Muwaman Hegazi, a key operator of an anti-tank formation in the Tafa battalion.
The Israeli forces also targeted terrorist squads that tried to attack them from civilian buildings and terrorist tunnels. The army said that soldiers spotted armed militants and an anti-tank missile launching post near Al-Azhar University and guided fighter jets to attack them. IDF forces also killed several terrorists hiding inside civilian buildings and terrorist tunnels who attempted to attack the army.
The ground operation in Gaza began on October 26, after Hamas launched a surprise offensive on Israel on October 7, firing thousands of rockets and infiltrating into Israel’s Southern District. Hamas said that its attack was in response to the “desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque”, as well as the blockade of the Gaza Strip, continued Israeli settlements, and Israeli settler violence.
The conflict has resulted in more than 9,000 Palestinian deaths and more than 1,400 Israeli deaths, mostly civilians. It has also displaced more than 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza and 200,000 Israelis. The United States and other countries have called for an immediate ceasefire and a political solution to end the violence.