Israel’s military has claimed significant victories against Hamas militants in Gaza, stating that the majority of the Palestinian militant group’s fighting force in the Khan Yunis area has been “severely incapacitated.” This comes as part of Israel’s “Operation Iron Swords” campaign.
IDF Raids Hamas Compound Used for October 7 Attack Training
Last week, IDF troops raided a Hamas military compound in Khan Yunis that had been used to train militants for the major October 7, 2024 rocket attack against Israel. Within the compound, the IDF discovered mock-ups of Israeli towns and military bases that had been built to simulate the October 7 attack.
The compound was run by senior Hamas commander Mohammad Sinwar and held a cache of weapons. In a video released by the Israeli military, IDF soldiers can be seen storming the compound, seizing weapons and intelligence documents.
“The raid on this key Hamas site will severely impede Hamas’s force build-up,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant.
##Israel Claims 10,000 Hamas Militants Killed Since Start of Conflict
On February 1st, Minister Galant stated that Israeli military operations had resulted in the deaths of 10,000 Hamas militants in Gaza since fighting began in October 2023.
“The heads of Hamas in Gaza need to internalize that attacking us is not free for them,” said Galant. “Our long arm will get them anywhere, all the time.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also commented, stating: “We are systematically destroying Hamas’s metro tunnel system in Gaza. We will continue as long as necessary to bring back peace to Israel’s citizens.”
Intense House-to-House Fighting Ongoing in Khan Yunis
Even with the reported high death toll among Hamas fighters, clashes have continued in the Khan Yunis area. On February 5th, the Israeli military carried out additional strikes targeting Hamas infrastructure and engaging in intense urban combat.
“We killed dozens of armed Hamas members,” said an IDF statement. The United Nations has expressed concern over the growing civilian casualties.
Brig. Gen. Nimrod Aloni said the IDF’s 99th “Elephant” Division destroyed Hamas facilities including a rocket manufacturing site and seized cash, weapons and intelligence documents.
House-to-house searches for militants and clashed continued Sunday night in Khan Yunis neighborhoods including Al-Satar Al-Gharbi and Al-Zanna.
Hamas Capabilities “Severely Incapacitated” in Khan Yunis
Minister Galant recently declared victory over Hamas in Khan Yunis, stating that Hamas’s military capabilities in the city have been “severely incapacitated.” He warned the militant group that Israel would continue to target its leaders.
“Anyone who tries to harm Israeli citizens should know that we will find them and we will hit them where they are,” Galant said.
With over two-thirds of Hamas’s estimated 20,000 fighters in the Gaza Strip killed or wounded according to Israeli claims, analysts say the group is severely weakened in the Khan Yunis area. Israel is now setting its sights on Hamas strongholds in Rafah, located on the Gaza-Egypt border.
“The heads of Hamas need to understand that we will reach them even if they hide behind civilians and terminate them,” Minister Galant told Israeli media. “Our mission won’t end until the heads of Hamas beg for a ceasefire.”
International Efforts for Ceasefire Ongoing
With both sides claiming successes, international efforts to broker a ceasefire agreement have continued. Egypt and the United Nations have put forward truce proposals, but clashes have persisted.
In late January, U.S. President Joe Biden spoke separately with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promoting a “sustainable political solution” to end fighting.
But Israeli leadership has signaled plans to continue the campaign. “The operation will expand as much as necessary,” Netanyahu recently stated.
There are concerns from human rights groups that a continued Israeli ground offensive to destroy Hamas tunnels and infrastructure will lead to further civilian casualties. The UN estimates that over 200 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the recent fighting.
Outlook Going Forward
With intense fighting and a rising death toll over the past months, the road ahead for Israelis and Palestinians remains fraught with uncertainty and violence appears set to continue:
Israel is vowing to continue military action until Hamas agrees to a ceasefire. Ground operations to destroy tunnels and militancy infrastructure could last weeks or months.
Hamas remains defiant, stating it will keep up resistance and retaliation against the Israeli military. With many key leaders killed, Hamas may increasingly resort to new tactics including mass marches on the border fence.
Hopes still remain for a diplomatic solution, but the gaps between the Israeli government and Palestinian militant groups on core issues remain wide.
The humanitarian situation for Gaza’s 2 million residents, already dire before this round of conflict, continues to worsen severely. Shortages of food, water, electricity and medical care are taking a heavy toll on civilians.
With both sides polarized, a return to sustained calm still appears sadly distant. The coming weeks and months will prove pivotal in determining whether a lasting de-escalation can be achieved.
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