Israel starts expanding ground operations in Gaza

More than 15,500 people have been killed so far during Israel’s offensive in Gaza since, according to Gaza’s health ministry...reports Asian Lite News

Israel has started expanding its ground operations to the whole of the Gaza Strip, CNN reported quoting Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on Sunday.

“The IDF is resuming and expanding the ground operation against Hamas’ strongholds across the whole Gaza Strip,” IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a news conference on Sunday. The IDF spokesperson also underlined “the importance of air assistance provided by the Air Force to ground forces,” saying airstrikes against terror headquarters, weapons manufacturing facilities, terror tunnels, and rocket launching sites limit the threats posed against the ground operation.

“Our policy is clear — we will forcefully strike any threat posed against our territory,” he added. Meanwhile, IDF troops eliminated 500 of the 800+ exposed shafts to Hamas’ underground tunnels located near or inside kindergartens, schools, playgrounds and mosques. “To be clear, these places aren’t childproof, but rather teeming with terrorism. Every tunnel shaft and weapon we find is further proof of how Hamas deliberately uses the residents of Gaza for their terrorist agenda against Israelis,” the IDF shared on X.

CNN reported that the renewed strikes hit the Jabalya refugee camp on Sunday, as seen in verified videos from the scene as well as in reporting by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa. CNN obtained a video clip showing huge plumes of smoke filling the skyline after the Sunday strike. Israel also targeted Jabalya on Saturday, killing prominent Palestinian scientist Sufyan Tayeh, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. On both Saturday and Sunday, Israel issued online warnings saying the military had resumed “working forcefully against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.” IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee posted on X, “To the residents of Jabalia, Al-Shuja’iya, Al-Zaytoun, and the Old City of Gaza – in order to preserve your safety, we call on you to evacuate your homes immediately.”

‘We will hunt down Hamas abroad’

Israel will hunt down Hamas in Lebanon, Turkiye and Qatar even if it takes years, the head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet said in a recording aired by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday. It was unclear when Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar made the remarks or to whom. The agency itself declined to comment on the report. “The cabinet has set us a goal, in street talk, to eliminate Hamas. This is our Munich. We will do this everywhere, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkiye, in Qatar.

It will take a few years but we will be there to do it.” By Munich, Bar was referring to Israel’s response to the 1972 killing of 11 Israeli Olympic team members when gunmen from the Palestinian Black September group launched an attack on the Munich games. Israel responded by carrying out a targeted assassination campaign against Black September operatives and organizers over several years and in several countries. Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after its gunmen on Oct. 7 burst through the border with Gaza, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostage. More than 15,500 people have been killed so far during Israel’s offensive in Gaza since, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Other than in Gaza, Hamas leaders reside in or frequently visit Lebanon, Turkiye and Qatar. Qatar helped to mediate a week-long truce that broke down on Friday. Over the years, various countries have offered some protection for Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan and the United States. In 1997, Israeli Mossad agents botched the poisoning of then-Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan. Israel had to give Jordan an antidote to save Meshaal’s life. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister at the time.

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