The ground invasion of the southern Gaza Strip continued on Thursday as the IDF said the 98th Division joined the operations in Khan Younis.
The 98th Division contains much of the IDF’s Special Operations units. Their participation is considered critical in Khan Younis as Israel attempts to locate top Hamas terrorist leaders, such as Yahya Sinwar, as well as the remaining captives.
On Thursday morning, the IDF released video footage of an event in which two Hamas operatives exited a tunnel and opened fire at forces of the 98th Division's Duvdevan unit which, in turn, responded by killing the gunmen and destroying the tunnel shaft.
The commander of the IDF Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Yaron Finkelman, said, “The combat in Khan Younis is a major effort, I am impressed by how well it is being managed.”
He said the forces are pursuing “moral objectives” in the campaign.
“There are moral objectives here that guide us. Continue to demonstrate this. We will bring in what is needed, we advancing toward the identified objectives on the front.”
The battle for Khan Younis is a critical part of the ground invasion. Many senior Hamas leaders, such as Sinwar, his brother Muhammad, and Muhammad Deif, grew up in the area and have homes there. Israel also believes that the leaders are hiding in bunkers underneath Khan Younis.
The Hamas Khan Younis Brigade is one of the two largest brigades in Hamas and by neutralizing its capabilities, Israel hopes to bring the war to an end more quickly.
On Wednesday, the IDF reported it had already destroyed 30 tunnels within Khan Younis and seized weapons and terror equipment inside a mosque in the city.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced on Wednesday that the IDF had surrounded Sinwar’s home in Khan Younis.
"Yesterday, I said that our forces can reach anywhere in the Gaza Strip. Now they are surrounding Sinwar's house. So, his house is not his fortress, and he can escape, but it's only a matter of time before we get him," Netanyahu said.
The IDF continued to call on Gazans to evacuate Khan Younis further south toward the Rafah border crossing and west towards the Mediterranean Sea.
Operations also continued in northern Gaza, where the 460th Brigade advanced in the Jabaliya camp, capturing a Hamas outpost and killing several terrorists in the area. Soldiers found tunnels and weapons, which were destroyed.
Soldiers discovered a large cache of weapons near a school and a hospital in the heart of a civilian area in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF announced on Thursday morning that Hamas launched 12 rockets toward the city of Beersheva in southern Israel the evening before.
The rockets were launched from a site near the tents of evacuated Gazan civilians in Rafah, in southern Gaza and next to UN facilities. The IDF released documentation of the launches.
.@UN, hear a loud noise yesterday?— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 7, 2023
That was the sound of 12 Hamas rockets launched toward Israeli civilians in southern Israel.
Hamas is the enemy of humanity and makes itself a threat to the entire world. pic.twitter.com/0RDeUfH5j7
It also noted that an earlier launch from the area of evacuees misfired, endangering Gaza civilians attempting to find shelter during the conflict.
The Israel Air Force carried out airstrikes on dozens of Hamas targets in the northern and southern Gaza Strip overnight.
The IDF says the Navy continues to assist ground forces, carrying out strikes with precision-guided munitions, and shelling Hamas sites along the coast.
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The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.