Israeli troops battled Hamas in the heart of southern Gaza’s main city where a suspected mastermind of the October 7 attacks is believed to be hiding. Israel’s Army, Air Force, and Navy have all launched an offensive in South Gaza forcing thousands of displaced civilians to seek shelter on the border and in a desolate seaside area of the besieged enclave.
In a statement, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that several Hamas operatives were killed in today’s strikes in Khan Younis.
“During operations in Jabalya, the troops conducted a targeted raid on a military compound belonging to Hamas’ Central Jabalya Battalion. A number of terrorists were killed as part of the activity,” the IDF said.
The Israeli troops also located a network of underground tunnels, which they claim is used as a weapons storage facility and training area.
Videos released by the IDF showed missiles destroying buildings in Khan Yunis. Ground troops went door-to-door to check for Hamas operatives and hidden tunnels.
Israel’s naval forces struck several compounds with precise ammunition and firing shells accusing them of being Hamas military bases.
“We are in the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation,” the commander of the Israeli Defence Forces Southern Command General Yaron Finkelman said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli forces encircled the Khan Younis house of Hamas leader Yahya Al-Sinwar.
“His house may not be his fortress and he can escape but it’s only a matter of time before we get him,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.
Sinwar stands accused of being one of the masterminds of the October 7 attacks on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities, and saw around 240 hostages taken.
Israel declared war on Hamas after the deadliest attack in its history, vowing to eradicate the group and bring home all the hostages.
Much of northern Gaza has already been reduced to rubble by fierce fighting and bombardment, displacing 1.9 million people according to UN figures.
Many civilians fled to Khan Yunis when Israel ordered them to evacuate the north of the territory earlier in the war. Residents said Israeli bombing has grown more intense, killing and wounding civilians.
They are now being pushed further south to Rafah on the border with Egypt and towards the desolate seaside area of the enclave.