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Day 103 –  IDF captures Hamas squad that shot massive rocket salvo on Tuesday

Israel won’t be able to survive without eliminating Hamas, Defense Minister Gallant warns

Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza, Jan. 17, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

After Hamas terrorists launched one of the largest rocket salvoes in recent months, IDF soldiers immediately hunted the responsible squad, capturing seven and killing some other terrorists in the area, the Israeli army stated Wednesday.

The barrage on Tuesday targeted the town of Netivot and is estimated to have included between 25-50 rockets, two of which impacted and caused minor damage while the rest fell in open areas or were intercepted.

Following the launch from the central Gaza Strip, IDF soldiers of the 646th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade pursued the terror squad, eventually capturing seven terrorists, killing several others and locating the launch site.

The site consisted of three launchers, each capable of firing 10 rockets. Some of them were loaded with rockets and were later destroyed by IDF combat engineers.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday visited his old unit and one of the IDF’s most elite special forces, Naval Commando Shayetet 13, at its famous base inside a medieval crusader castle in Atlit.

During the visit, Gallant received an update on the unit’s recent activities and vowed to see the war through to its end.

“Whenever this war ends, it will be according to the achievement [of our goals]. The achievement is that Hamas does not function as a governing or military institution and our ability to do whatever is required in terms of our freedom to operate in the field,” Gallant said.

“There will be no life for the State of Israel if anyone can start a war and kill, kidnap, rape and abuse such numbers of people, and the State of Israel remains silent.”

“There is only one sentence for an act like what was done on October 7 – liquidation as an organization. Hamas has over 9,000 dead, this number needs to be doubled, and that’s not enough either,” Gallant said.

In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continued to draw down some of its troops, as the Duvdevan Special Forces unit was redeployed to the West Bank on Tuesday.

Contrary to the withdrawal of the 36th Division earlier this week, the redeployment of Duvdevan may not correlate to the government’s policy regarding the war in Gaza. Instead, it can be seen as a stop-gap measure to stabilize the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Until now, the commando unit has been fighting under the 89th Division in Khan Younis, where large forces continue to battle the remaining two Hamas battalions.

The IDF also announced it had eliminated Bilal Nawfal, a Hamas commander responsible for counter-espionage in the southern Gaza Strip. His elimination is a blow to the organization’s research and learning capabilities, the IDF reported.

During the fighting in Khan Younis, soldiers of the 7th Brigade battlegroup identified three terrorists fleeing into a building after firing mortar grenades at them. The soldiers directed a helicopter gunship to strike the building, eliminating three terrorists.

Amid intense fighting in the area, about 16 tons of ammunition, fuel, water and food were air-dropped to the forces of the 98th Division. Since the war began, five aerial resupply operations were carried out, bringing about 60 tons of supplies to troops on the ground.

Intense battles also continued in the central Gaza Strip and the area of the four camps. There, soldiers of the 646th Brigade battlegroup and the elite combat engineering unit Yahalom destroyed a strategic underground route of the terrorist organization Hamas.

The underground tunnel, which stretched for hundreds of meters at a depth of about 9 meters (almost 30 feet), was used by the terrorists to travel between the north and south of the Strip, which have been disconnected by the IDF.

Forces of the 179th Brigade battlegroup fighting on the outskirts of Sheikh Ijlin in southern Gaza City identified two nearby terrorists and directed an aircraft to strike and kill the terrorists. In addition, they located many weapons in the area.

During the recent fighting, three more Israeli soldiers lost their lives, the IDF announced on Wednesday. This brings the death toll from the ground operation in the Gaza Strip to 193. Four other soldiers were seriously wounded during the fighting.

One soldier was killed and another seriously injured in a military car crash in the West Bank.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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