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Gaza War: Day 19

As Israel-Hamas war continues, IDF also responds to fire from Lebanon, Syria, West Bank

IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Wednesday that there is evidence Iran is trying to ignite the Middle East.

RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli strike on October 25, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas.

The IDF continued its military operation aimed at wiping out the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza overnight, as Israeli fighter jets engaged in retaliatory strikes in Lebanon and Syria and ground forces carried out counterrorism actions in the West Bank.

In his daily briefing on Wednesday, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Iran was attempting to ignite the region and that Israel would continue defending its borders by sea, air, and land along all its borders. 

“Anyone trying to infiltrate Israeli territory would be eliminated,” he said. 

Hagari said Iran had assisted Hamas before the war broke out on Oct. 7, providing the group with extensive training, weapons, financing and technological knowledge.

“Even now, Iran continues to help Hamas with intelligence and incitement against Israel,” he said, adding that additional terrorist proxies in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon have been operating under orders from Tehran.

A report published by CNN on Wednesday found that Hamas had planned its deadly Oct. 7 attack — in which some 1,400 people were killed — by using hardwired phones. Citing intelligence that Israel shared with the U.S., CNN said the phones were connected throughout Hamas’ extensive network of tunnels that sprawl beneath Gaza.

The phone lines allowed the operatives to communicate with one another in secret, undetected by Israeli intelligence officials, the sources told CNN. Hamas reportedly had been planning the attack for two years.

In his briefing on Wednesday, Hagari said the army had overnight killed Taysir Mubasher, the commander of the North Khan Yunis Battalion, one of Hamas’ top commanders in Gaza.

“Mubasher has extensive experience in the military and as a commander, directing terror attacks,” the army said in a statement, highlighting that he was also related to Hamas’ military leader Mohammed Deif. Details from the Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, noted that Mubasher was responsible for multiple terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers during the Second Intifada and the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

The army also said that four additional Hamas operatives were killed Tuesday, including Abed Alrahman, deputy commander of the Nuseirat Battalion, who took part in the Kibbutz Be’eri massacre, Khalil Muhajez, deputy commander of the Shati Battalion, and Khalil Tatri, deputy commander of the Sheikh Radwan Battalion. 

In addition, on Tuesday afternoon, a Hamas cell attempting to infiltrate Israeli territory via the sea in the area of Kibbutz Zikim was taken out by Israeli naval forces. Some 10 terrorists were reportedly killed.

Wide-scale air strikes continued overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, with the army saying that additional Hamas infrastructure, including terror tunnel shafts, military headquarters, weapons warehouses, mortar launchers and anti-tank missile launchers were destroyed.

The army said it also struck Hamas’ operational apparatus responsible for setting up blockades that have prevented Gazans from evacuating to safer areas in the southern Gaza Strip, despite IDF warnings in the area.

“We will continue to strike Hamas in order to allow civilians in Gaza to move southward,” Hagari said in his briefing. He said that civilians living in Gaza City and the surrounding area had been warned that Hamas was using them as human shields, hiding underneath their homes, schools, and hospitals. 

The spokesman highlighted that a significant amount of aid sent by Egypt and the U.S. over the past few days has been made available in the southern region of the Gaza Strip. Once Israel completes its operation against Hamas, said Hagari, civilians would be permitted to move back.

The Palestine Red Crescent in Gaza confirmed on Tuesday that it had received the fourth batch of humanitarian aid from Egypt via the Rafah Crossing. Among the eight loads, it said, were five trucks of water, two with food and one with medicine. Some 16,301 food parcels were distributed to displaced families in Al-Wusta, Khan Younis and Rafah governorates over the past 24 hours, the agency said.

Based on figures from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the death toll in Gaza had reached 5,791, with some 1,550 people, including 870 children, reported missing and likely buried under the rubble.

On Israel’s northern border, the IDF said it had targeted five terrorist cells that were firing anti-tank missiles against its military posts, as well as firing rockets into civilian areas. IDF UAVs struck two of the cells, the army said, in addition to air strikes, tank and artillery fire toward the sources of the additional launches.  

Media reports on Wednesday said that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah Nasrallah met Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, who reportedly resides in Lebanon. The two discussed, among other things, the war in the various arenas against Israel, Haaretz reported.

Additionally, a letter published by Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television network said that Nasrallah had called for all the Palestinians militants killed on Oct. 7 to be recognized as “saints on the way to Jerusalem.”

Israeli military jets also operated in Syria overnight, IDF Spokesman Hagari confirmed in his briefing. The operation came following two rockets fired from Syria landed in Israeli territory on Tuesday. According to Syrian state-run media, eight soldiers were killed and seven wounded in the strikes in the area of Daraa.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority-run Health Ministry said Tuesday that four Palestinians were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces. The IDF said earlier in the day that its forces were operating in the area of Jenin and that two individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities were apprehended.

“During counterterrorism activity in the Jenin Camp, armed terrorists fired and hurled explosive devices at Israeli security forces,” the army said. “In response, an IDF UAV struck the terrorists. Hits were identified.”

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