Israel says military killed half of Hamas' battalion commanders | World News - Hindustan Times

Israel says military killed half of Hamas' battalion commanders

Dec 07, 2023 12:00 PM IST

Netanyahu said that Gaza would “never again pose a threat to Israel. There will be no forces that support terror, educate for terror, finance terror”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after meeting the families of hostages on Tuesday, said that Hamas wanted to tear Israel apart but “we are tearing it apart”. He added that Israeli forces, under the current strategy, killed around “half of Hamas’ battalion commanders”.

Palestinians inspect rubble after Israeli airstrikes hit a mosque in Gaza. (AP)
Palestinians inspect rubble after Israeli airstrikes hit a mosque in Gaza. (AP)

However, Netanyahu failed to provide the details and names of those killed. He said there was a “a vast intelligence factory” that was working 24 hours a day to get information “to return all of the hostages safely — female and male soldiers, male and female citizens, young and old”.

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“We’re on the right path. We managed to bring 110 hostages home. We are settling accounts with all those who kidnapped, participated, murdered, slaughtered, raped and burned the daughters of our people. We will not forget and we will not forgive.”

He added that Gaza would “never again pose a threat to Israel. There will be no forces that support terror, educate for terror, finance terror and the families of terrorists”.

The Israeli military on Tuesday released a picture of 11 senior Hamas military leaders stating that they were gathered in a tunnel beneath Gaza and claimed that five of them were killed.

Among those in the photograph, the army said that it eliminated the head of the aerial division of Hamas, a brigade commander, a deputy brigade commander and two battalion commanders.

The military added that the photo was taken when the militant group was hiding in a tunnel under a residential neighbourhood near the Indonesian hospital in north Gaza's Beit Lahia.

As reported by the New York Times, an intelligence unit in Israel analysed the picture however, it wasn't revealed who took it.

In the photograph, the leader are seen seated at an extended, low table filled with fruits, beverages, and various food items. Below the gathering is an extensive network of tunnels constructed by Hamas to conceal and transport weapons, fighters, and supplies.

Hamas military wing Qassam Brigades said last month that three of the men in the picture were killed including northern Gaza military leader Ahmed al-Ghandour, also known as Abu Anas, his deputy Wael Rajab and Hamas battalion commander Rafet Salman.

In November, an Israeli military spokesperson said that its forces attacked an underground site where al-Ghandour was hiding. Two other men in the picture that Israel claims to have killed were accused of planning the October 7 attack. Asem Abu Rakba, as per the military, oversaw Hamas’ drone program.

The fatalities pose a setback for Hamas amidst a forceful Israeli incursion that has devastated portions of northern Gaza, leading to the displacement of over 90 per cent of the population, with a reported death toll surpassing 15,500 people, as per the Gazan Health Ministry. Since Hamas entered Israel using motor gliders, boats and trucks on October 7, around 1,200 Israelis have died. In a counter-attack, Israel launched an offensive and vowed to rid Gaza of Hamas.

The Israeli military commanders have estimated this week that several thousand Hamas fighters have been killed since the beginning of the war. The estimates are based on the assumption that when Israeli troops claim to have wiped out a battalion, between 200 and 250 Hamas fighters have been killed. Similarly, if a commander is targeted and killed, it is believed that a team of five or six people died with them. Since the confirmation of a commander's death may take days, the Israeli military said it was an “evolving reality”.

Israeli forces have recently entered southern Gaza to locate and eliminate top Hamas leaders, including Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and Qassam Brigades chief Mohammed Deif, who are believed to be hiding there.

Sinwar and Deif were thought to be in southern Gaza's Largest city Khan Younis at one point where the army and Hamas fighters were engaged in intense combat.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu posted a video on X, formerly Twitter, saying, “Our forces are encircling Sinwar’s house. He can escape, but it is only a matter of time until we reach him.”

As per the New York Times, an Israeli military official said that Sinwar was not above ground.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Tuesday that Hamas' second-largest northern brigade was “significantly damaged”. The military also claimed that it inflicted severe damage to the battalions from the Gaza City Brigade.

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