The IDF said that Monday was the most significant day since ground operations began in the Gaza Strip. Significant fighting took place in the Hamas strongholds of Jabaliya and Shaja'iya, as well as deep in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
Khan Younis, Gaza's second largest city serves as one of the most significant centers of power for the terrorist organization Hamas. According to estimates, senior Hamas members are located there, including Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif.
The commander of the IDF Southern Command, Maj.-Gen Yaron Finkelman said, "We are in the heart of Jabaliya, in the heart of Shaja'iya, and starting tonight also in the heart of Khan Younis. We have had the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation - in terms of terrorists killed, the number of encounters and engaging with fire from the ground and air. We intend to continue to attack and progress."
Unlike areas in the northern Gaza Strip, Khan Younis is characterized by lower buildings and areas with plantations and orchards. Currently, there's a greater population density in southern Gaza because over a million Gazans have fled the northern part of the strip.
The IDF says that the timing of the assassination of the commander of the Shaja'iya battalion was set in coordination with the advancement of ground troops in the neighborhood to create chaos for Hamas and prevent it from asserting command and control during the fighting.
Meanwhile, fighting in northern Gaza has continued, and while the IDF maintains operational control there, it is expected to clear the whole area of Hamas operatives.
Israeli military forces also continue to its efforts evacuate the civilian population by making announcements and postings on social media calling for residents to leave the area.
To protect civilians, the IDF declared two places that are defined as "safe areas" in the south: The Al-Mawasi neighborhood in the southwest Gaza Strip and the Rafah area, where tent cities are being constructed by the United Nations and other international agencies.
As Israeli ground troops operate, the army still is working to return hostages. Officials continue to insist that without the significant ground operation in northern Gaza, there would have been no hostage release deals.
The IDF acknowledges the need to deal with the Philadelphi Corridor on the Egyptian border, which is used by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to smuggle weapons.
Since the beginning of the fighting, Israeli forces have eliminated more than 6,000 Hamas terrorists, with thousands of others injured. There was a major strike on Hamas' battalion commanders, which disrupts its ability to control and command its operatives.
Written by KAN correspondents Itai Blumenthal and Carmela Menashe.
Kan.org.il is the Hebrew news website of the The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation