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Day 168: Shifa operation marks one of largest in current war – 600 arrested, 150 terrorists killed so far

Identities of several senior captured terrorists have not yet been published

Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

The large-scale raid on Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital has been going on for almost a week and is becoming one of the IDF’s largest operations in the Gaza Strip since the war began last October.

“This is the operation with the largest aggregation of terrorists we have apprehended since the beginning of the war,” IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing on Thursday evening.

“So far, we have apprehended over 500 suspects, 358 of which are Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. They are surrendering, we are interrogating them, and they are providing us with very valuable and important intelligence,” he added.

On Friday morning, the IDF updated the numbers, announcing that roughly 600 terrorists were arrested and more than 150 eliminated. Israeli troops have continued to find weapons and intelligence documents while searching the hospital.

Hagari said that the identities of several senior captured terrorists were not yet authorized to be published due to their sensitivity.

“After we finish interrogating them and find the intelligence with them, we will publish the identities of these terrorists. Senior Hamas officials understand well the significance of the operation and as the picture of the apprehended and of the eliminated terrorists becomes clearer - the pressure on them will increase,” he said.

Israel Defense Forces later released a collage showing pictures of the 358 terrorists whose identity was certified by Israel. However, the IDF admitted on Friday that some of the terrorists pictured haven’t officially been captured yet but have barricaded themselves in the hospital.

Among the detained terrorists were several high-ranking members of the command structure of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group.

The IDF also captured several senior officials of Hamas’ West Bank branch, including two senior terrorists who directed activities in Nablus and Qalqilya, and worked directly under Hamas’ former West Bank commander, Saleh al-Arouri, who was eliminated in Beirut in January.

Another senior Hamas terrorist, Mahmoud Kwasma, who was responsible for the plan to kidnap and murder three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, was also apprehended.

“Many terrorists in Shifa, especially from the Islamic Jihad, surrendered to our forces. This is a very hard blow to the Islamic Jihad - many of its operatives in the north, who are the majority of its significant operatives, either surrendered or were eliminated in the operation so far,” Hagari said.

The army spokesman explained why this operation was different from the first time the IDF raided Shifa Hospital back in November and destroyed the underground infrastructure there.

“The terrorists fled in the previous operation when we called to evacuate the compound… This time we operated by surprise,” Hagari said.

“We used deception tactics in this operation, and it was this that led to the success and apprehension of all 358 terrorists and there are more still inside this compound who haven’t managed to escape.”

“Those who did not surrender to our forces fought against our forces and were eliminated. Among them also the head of the Special Operations Directorate of Hamas' General Security - who chose to fight against our forces openly and our forces eliminated him,” he added.

Hagari noted that the fighting was still ongoing, with several terrorists barricaded in one of the buildings of the hospital compound. The IDF was in the process of evacuating about 200 patients from the building in preparation for the raid, he added.

“For the past 24 hours, we continued to call upon the terrorists in the building to surrender, those who surrender will stay alive, those who do not we will fight against until we eliminate them.”

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

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