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Day 166: About 90 terrorists killed, 350 interrogated during IDF raid on Shifa Hospital

Interrogations of captured terrorists provide ‘gold mine’ of intelligence

IDF soldier fighting in the Gaza Strip, March 19, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

The IDF’s large-scale raid on Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital continued into its third day with Israeli troops arresting over 300 suspects so far, many of whom are armed terrorists who surrendered and have been providing valuable intelligence, Israel Defense Forces stated on Wednesday.

In firefights on the hospital grounds, the IDF so far killed around 90 terrorists, among them senior Hamas leader Faik Mabhouh. Some 350 suspects were arrested and interrogated on-site by investigators with the IDF and Shin Bet domestic intelligence.

Over 160 suspects were taken into Israel for further investigation, with an IDF official telling Army Radio: “We are sitting on a gold mine.” Intelligence from the investigations already led to several airstrikes on Hamas targets in recent days.

Most of the captured suspects were identified with certainty as terrorists of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group, according to Army Radio. Among them were several mid-level terror commanders, however, the commander of Hamas’ Gaza Brigade is still at large.

The captured terrorists included a PIJ squad that was responsible for a recent rocket launch on Sderot. They told the interrogators they left Shifa to launch the attack before returning to the hospital, believing it to be a safe area.

Israeli forces also found a trove of Hamas intelligence and military archives in the hospital, including binders containing sensitive information about IDF units that Hamas stole from the Erez crossing on Oct. 7.

According to the Army Radio report, the IDF estimates that Hamas tried unsuccessfully to reconstruct parts of the underground system under Shifa that was destroyed when Israeli forces first captured the area last November.

The IDF also divulged some details about the way the surprise raid was carried out. The Navy commando unit Shayetet 13 led the attack, reaching the hospital gates just 15 minutes from the departure point by using the IDF’s new Eitan APCs.

About 20 minutes later, the 401st Armored Brigade joined with tanks, APCs and D9 bulldozers and encircled the hospital. Many captured terrorists later testified that the speed of the operation surprised them and that they didn’t think the IDF would return to Shifa, or that they at least would have more warning.

“I realized that Allah left me two choices - to surrender or die, and I chose to surrender,” a captured PIJ terrorist told IDF interrogators.

Israeli military officials reportedly used several tricks and deceptions during the operation. “More will be learned about this raid in the military colleges in the future,” they said.

The operation is estimated to take several more days to complete, as there are some buildings in the compound where terrorists continue to barricade themselves.

The Israeli army on Tuesday announced the identity of a soldier who fell in the fire exchanges during the Shifa operation, bringing the death toll since the ground incursion to 251.

He was named as Warrant Officer (res.) Sebastian Haion (51), a commander in the 401st Armored Brigade and a resident of Rosh Ha’ayin.

In other areas of Gaza, the IDF continued its ongoing operations at a relatively lower intensity than before.

In northern Gaza, Israeli aircraft struck an operation shaft of Hamas after a rocket was launched at Sderot from the location but fell inside the Gaza Strip.

In Jabaliya, an Israeli aircraft attacked and killed six terrorists, after receiving intel directions from the 215th Fire Brigade.

In the central Gaza Strip, soldiers of the Nahal Brigade battlegroup identified a terrorist and killed him with sniper fire.

In southern Gaza Strip, the fighting was concentrated on the outskirts of Khan Younis. Soldiers of the 7th Brigade battlegroup eliminated two terrorists and attacked military buildings in al-Karara.

The Egoz and Maglan commando units, meanwhile, completed their clearing operations in the Hamad City neighborhood. During the operation, which took more than a week, the soldiers raided the home of a senior Hamas commander and found a weapons cache there.

They also neutralized dozens of terrorists, demolished booby-trapped houses, and razed several buildings used by terrorists as barricades through targeted airstrikes.

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

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