Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip light a menorah for the third night of Chanukah, Dec. 9, 2023. Credit: IDF.

JOSHUA MARKS

Israeli forces continued to advance into the Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, the 65th day of “Operation Swords of Iron.”

The Israeli Air Force overnight Saturday struck terror infrastructure and underground tunnel shafts in Khan Yunis, the IDF reported on Sunday morning, adding that a drone assisted troops in eliminating an armed terror cell planning an attack.

Israeli attacks were also reported in Deir al-Balah; Nuseirat; the al-Maghazi and al-Zawaida camps in the central Strip; the eastern Gaza City neighborhoods of A-Tupah and Ja’iya in the north of the Strip; and the town of Jabalia, also in the north.

The IDF said on Sunday morning that combined ground, aerial and naval forces had struck over 250 terror targets across Gaza in the past 24 hours. Troops also located and destroyed weapons stocks, destroyed underground terror tunnel shafts and thwarted attacks on Israeli forces.

An IAF fighter jet struck a Hamas communications site located adjacent to a mosque in southern Gaza.

During activities in Shejaiya, IDF troops raided a Hamas command center, where they located weapons, including AK-47 rifles, grenades, anti-tank missile launchers, ammunition and additional military equipment.

The IDF Artillery Corps in recent days has been assisting ground forces operating in Shejaiya, marking its first entry into the Gaza Strip since the start of the ground operation on Oct. 27.

Soldiers from the corps’ 282nd Fire Brigade have been working with the 188th Armored Brigade in the Shejaiya area, shelling more than 20 terrorist targets including weapons storage facilities, booby-trapped houses and Hamas infrastructure.

Dramatic footage released by the IDF on Saturday shows members of the Nahal Infantry Brigade’s 931st Battalion battling Hamas operatives in Jabalia.

Another video released by the IDF shows soldiers from the Yahalom combat engineering unit’s special forces also engaged in a shootout with terrorists in the city.

“The troops conducted a firefight from outside the building. After entering the building, the troops searched and identified two terrorists who fired at them, and threw a grenade in their direction. The soldiers engaged, shot and eliminated the terrorist,” the IDF said.

Video circulating on social media on Saturday appeared to show dozens of Hamas terrorists surrendering to IDF soldiers at the UNRWA compound in Jabalia. The video shows the men with their arms raised, dressed only in underwear. One of the terrorists hands over his weapon to Israeli troops.

More than 150 terrorists were seen last week surrendering to IDF soldiers in Khan Yunis.

The videos of the two mass surrenders come as IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Saturday night during a Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony with Nahal Brigade soldiers and reservists said, “We see terrorists surrendering, a sign of the disintegration of the system, a sign that we need to push harder.”

It was also reported that Israeli forces killed senior Hamas members in recent battles, including Hamdi al-Ghandour, the third and only remaining son of Hamas Northern Brigade Commander Ahmed Ghandour, who was killed by an Israeli strike earlier in the war.

Other top Hamas members eliminated recently: Iyad al-Tahrawi, who managed the Rafah border crossing with Egypt; and in Khan Yunis the Nukbha force commander Abu Bakr, anti-tank battalion commander Abu Ishaq and naval units commander Abu Mujahid.

On Saturday, the IDF published the names of five more soldiers killed in Gaza: Maj. Liav Atiya, 25, from Be’er Sheva; Maj. Amri Ben Shahar, 25, from Givatayim; Sgt. Yonatan Din Haim, 25, from Ramat Gan; and Sgt. Maor Cohen Eizenkot, 18, from Eilat.

Eizenkot was the nephew of Israeli War Cabinet Minister Gadi Eizenkot (National Unity Party), whose son, Gal Meir Eizenkot, was killed in Gaza just a day earlier.

War Cabinet minister Minister Gadi Eizenkot, family and friends attend the funeral of Master Sgt. (res.) Gal Meir Eizenkot in Herzliya, Dec. 8, 2023. He was killed during a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Sgt. Haim Meir Eden, 20, from Rehovot, died of his wounds on Saturday after being seriously wounded during Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel.

At least 98 soldiers have been killed in action in Gaza since the start of the IDF ground operation; 425 Israeli soldiers have died since the war began.

Israel

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