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Day 130: Israel deepening ‘operational control’ over Khan Younis as Rafah operation looms

Three IDF soldiers killed, 10 wounded in Hamas ambush

Israeli forces in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

The main focus of the fighting in the Gaza Strip continues to be the city of Khan Younis, where Israeli forces are deepening operational control over the area and have eliminated dozens of terrorists over the past few days, the IDF stated.

On Monday, three IDF soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded by a Hamas ambush, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The terrorists reportedly either remotely activated an explosive charge or fired a missile at the building where IDF troops were located. The wounded were airlifted to hospitals in Israel by helicopter.

The number of successful ambushes by Hamas terrorists has increased since the Israeli army reduced its reserve forces in the Gaza Strip. The IDF has begun to permanently base its forces in specific areas to establish control over them rather than having them maneuver between areas to attack Hamas units, according to the report.

The three deaths bring the IDF soldier death toll from Israel's ground invasion to 232.

The soldiers who lost their lives on Monday were identified as: Lt.-Col. (res.) Netanel Yaacov Elkouby (36), Maj. (res.) Yair Cohen (30), and Sgt. First Class (res.) Ziv Chen (27). They served as the battalion commander, a company commander, and a soldier in the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade’s 630th Battalion, respectively.

(L-R) Sgt.-Maj. Ziv Chen, Lt.-Cmdr. Yair Cohen, Lt.-Col. Netanel Yaacov Elkouby (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Troops of the 7th Armored Brigade, under command of the 98th Division, carried out numerous raids on Hamas infrastructures in Khan Younis, as well as against sniper ambushes and patrols by terrorists, killing more than 30 operatives in the past 24 hours alone.

In the western part of the city, soldiers of the Paratrooper Brigade eliminated two terrorists who were posing as civilians and were about to attack Israeli forces from among a crowd of bystanders.

Soldiers of Battalion 414, an IDF field intelligence unit, located several terrorists transporting cargo on a motorcycle. The soldiers directed an aircraft that attacked and eliminated the terrorist squad.

The fire control center of the 98th Division also directed strikes against two weapons caches hidden in terrorists’ homes, destroying them in the process.

In the central Gaza Strip, the Nahal Brigade battlegroup eliminated 10 terrorists on Monday.

While the fighting continues to concentrate on Khan Younis at the moment, the IDF's next main target is expected to be the southernmost town in the Gaza Strip, Rafah.

Egyptian officials estimate that Israeli forces will move to the town of Rafah in about two weeks if a hostage release deal is not reached before then, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Early on Monday morning, Israeli forces rescued two hostages in a daring raid deep inside the town of Rafah. The accompanying intense airstrikes killed numerous terrorists in the surrounding area, according to the IDF.

Palestinian sources reported that up to 100 people died in the strikes, with Hamas calling them “horrific massacres against defenseless civilians and helpless children, women, and elderly.”

The terror group also claimed that three Israeli hostages had died as a result of the strikes, without identifying them.

“The al-Qassam Brigades [Hamas] announce the killing of three of the eight Zionist detainees who we announced yesterday were seriously injured in the barbaric Zionist raids on the Gaza Strip,” Hamas stated.

As a result of the war, Hamas militant forces have seen a reduction of more than half their original size, Israeli Government Spokesman Eylon Levy said in a Monday briefing.

“We’re talking about three-quarters of Hamas’ battalions that have been shattered ... with over 12,000 terrorists who have been killed,” Levy said.

“When you take into account the number of terrorists who have been wounded or apprehended, that is more than half of Hamas’ fighting force knocked out of action.”

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

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