IDF carries out hundreds of air strikes on Gaza, destroying Hamas infrastructure
Death toll in Israel reaches 1200, army notifies the families of 60 hostages being held captive by terrorists inside Gaza
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images
Israeli fighter jets struck hundreds of targets across the Gaza Strip overnight Tuesday and early on Wednesday, destroying key infrastructure sites and assets belonging to Hamas and other terrorist groups that carried out a mass terrorist attack inside Israel on Saturday, the Israeli army said in a series of statements.
Among the sites hit, the army said, was the Islamic University, an important operational and military center for the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip and an aerial detection center belonging to Hamas, which included a high-quality network of cameras hidden inside solar water heaters all around the Gaza Strip used to track and monitor Israeli aircraft. In addition, the army said it destroyed two banks used by Hamas to fund terrorism, as well as an underground tunnel, two operational command centers used to direct terrorist activities and multiple compounds for training, manufacturing, and storing weapons.
Also overnight, the army reported that naval forces had killed a Hamas diver attempting to infiltrate into Israel via the sea, and around the south there were reports of fighting between Israeli troops and terrorists who had managed to infiltrate the border in previous days.
In the North on Wednesday morning, military helicopters struck sites inside Lebanese territory after a number of anti-tank missiles were launched towards IDF points along the border.
Briefing journalists on Tuesday evening, Brigadier General Dan Goldfus said that for the past four days forces have continued battling terrorists, including from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in the communities and open areas around the Strip.
“We have been pushing the enemy out of our villages and killing them one by one while they hide inside homes, using the villages as human shields and some of them playing dead,” he described. “It is hard to explain what has gone on here.”
Goldfus said that one of the worst scenes was in the Re’im park, where thousands of young partygoers were brutally attacked and killed during an overnight rave. Israeli rescue agency Zaka reported finding some 260 dead bodies there and eyewitnesses have recounted seeing young women being raped and then shot or dragged away to Gaza.
“People came to the party and were slaughtered,” he said. “They were burnt, tied up and shot in the head in a very systematic way.”
The army took a small group of foreign journalists to the site of another massacre on Kibbutz Kfar Aza on Tuesday, with reporters recounting the atrocities with more than 100 dead bodies, some burnt and decapitated, including some reports of some 40 babies.
As the death toll in Israel continued to rise – surpassing 1,200 people on Tuesday – there were some glimmers of hope. The army’s National Emergency Situation Room said it had rescued approximately 30 people who had been trapped in Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha. It also said that it was coming close to identifying all those taken from Israel to Gaza, which include a number of U.S. citizens. The army notified the families of 60 hostages that they were being held in Gaza, Hagari said.
Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel continued throughout the day Tuesday and into Wednesday, reaching Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon. Violent incidents were also reported in Jerusalem, where Palestinians reportedly attempted to breach the security barrier on the outskirts of the city near Abu Dis, and in the West Bank, where one Palestinian was said to have been killed by Israeli troops.
In Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that more than 900 people had been killed in the Strip, with a further 4,200 injured. Among those killed, according to reports, were family members of Mohammad Deif, the Hamas military commander, who lived in the Qizan an Najjar neighborhood in Khan Younis.
Israeli humanitarian organization Gisha, which advocates for the rights of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, said that the lack of electricity and the fuel shortages were having a huge impact on the territory with operations at numerous desalination facilities as well as wastewater treatment plants set to stop on Wednesday, posing further health and environmental threats.
Meanwhile, the first U.S. planes carrying armaments landed at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel on Tuesday night.
“The armaments are designed to facilitate significant military operations and increase preparedness for other scenarios,” the army said in a statement. “We are grateful for the U.S., backing and assistance to the IDF, and to the State of Israel in general, during this challenging period. Our common enemies know that the cooperation between our militaries is stronger than ever, and is a key part in ensuring regional security and stability.”
Hamas reacted angrily to President Joe Biden’s speech on Monday, in which the U.S. leader condemned the brutal atrocities carried out by the terrorist group, saying in a statement that it “vehemently rejected and deplored” the president’s “inflammatory remarks.”
“Such comments constitute an attempt to cover up the Israeli occupation government’s crimes and terrorism against the Palestinian people,” Hamas said. “President Biden’s speech did not point to the massacres committed by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people in cold blood and under the nose of the whole world.”