All Israel

Day 142: Battlefield achievements are key to freeing hostages, IDF Chief Halevi says

IDF fighting to reach several goals before possible Ramadan truce

Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

The advancements on the battlefield are a critical lever to pressure Hamas to release the Israeli hostages, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi told soldiers as Israeli troops continued fighting across the Gaza Strip over the weekend.

During a situation assessment in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, Halevi told the troops that their efforts were giving Israel an advantage in the ongoing negotiations to reach a hostage deal with Hamas.

“Your achievements - another battalion you dismantle, another underground infrastructure, another neighborhood where infrastructure is destroyed and the population evacuates to safe spaces - all of these things are pushing us, I very much hope, to achieve the release of the abductees. This is the purpose of war,” Halevi said.

“The fighting effort is the most effective action that helps those negotiating to release the hostages… This is the lever we are enacting on Hamas. And you are doing it very well,” Halevi added.

As Israel advances negotiations to reach an agreement with Hamas before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on March 10, the IDF is reportedly feeling the pressure to reach its goals before that deadline.

On Sunday, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that several goals that the IDF set for itself have not yet been achieved, among them: completing the destruction of Hamas infrastructure including its rocket array; collecting more intelligence by reaching certain Hamas targets; locating hidden weapons caches; and eliminating hidden terror squads.

The hunt for top Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar will also continue up until the last moment before a possible truce kicks in, the Channel 12 report added.

The aforementioned goals would allow the IDF to preserve the accomplishments it has already attained in the event of a ceasefire that could last for six weeks or more.

Halevi meanwhile assured the political echelon that a truce would not harm the IDF’s ability to return to combat whenever required, and could even help it.

The army chief described the current phase of the fighting as “deepening the achievements,” noting that the IDF was returning to areas where it already maneuvered, equipped with better intelligence to completely root out Hamas operatives and rid the area of any remaining terror infrastructure.

This is true especially for the northern Gaza Strip, where Israel began its ground invasion some three months ago, and last week launched a broad-scale operation in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood to prepare it for a pilot project of local self-governance.

During the ongoing operation, soldiers of the 162nd Division’s Nahal Brigade battlegroup located weapons and destroyed rocket launch complexes in Zeitoun, the IDF stated in its latest war update.

Soldiers of the Gaza Division fighting in the area of Shati, also in the northern Gaza Strip, identified a terrorist cell operating a drone and directed an Israeli aircraft to strike and eliminate the terrorists.

Battles continued in central Gaza over the weekend, where soldiers of the Nahal Brigade eliminated a number of terrorists throughout the last day.

Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Strip, is still the focus of the fighting, despite the IDF withdrawing its last active reserve brigade from the area last week.

Since yesterday, Israeli soldiers have arrested several terrorists who tried to escape by pretending to be Gazan civilians evacuating the area as refugees.

Several terrorists were eliminated and weapons caches were located in raids by troops of the 7th Brigade and the Givati Brigade battlegroup. They found weapons that were hidden, including sniper rifles, a Kalashnikov-type rifle, grenades and ammunition.

The IDF also stated that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out several airstrikes across the Gaza Strip and destroyed several targets of the Hamas aerial force.

Among the targets attacked were several launch positions designated for rocket fire toward Israeli territory.

According to Army Radio, the IAF also struck targets unusually close to the Egyptian border, including a shaft of a smuggling tunnel near the border, and a Hamas ammunition depot located near the Philadelphi Corridor running along the Gaza-Egypt border.

Over the weekend, the IDF announced the deaths of two soldiers who fell during battles with terrorists, bringing the death toll of the ground operation to 240.

The fallen soldiers were Staff Sgt. Ido Eli Zrihen (20), from Jerusalem; and Staff Sgt. Nerya Belete (21) from Shavei Shomron.

Both served in the Givati Brigade and were killed in the fighting in the southern Gaza Strip.

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

All Israel
Receive latest news & updates
    A message from All Israel News
    Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
    For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
    Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS
    Popular Articles
    Latest Stories