Israeli army expands ground operations across Gaza Strip
Qatar and the US hold talks on a new truce
Israel is expanding its ground operations throughout the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Sunday.
"The IDF is resuming and expanding the ground operation against Hamas strongholds throughout the Gaza Strip," IDF spokesman Daniel Haggari said at a press conference on Sunday.
Israel previously warned civilians to leave large areas of the Gaza Strip, including a number of neighborhoods in the southern parts of the enclave, after it resumed its military offensive there. Yesterday the IDF called on people to evacuate several areas southeast of Khan Younis, a town in southern Gaza where many have sought refuge in recent weeks, and asked them to move further south.
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.
Haggari also emphasized "the importance of air support provided by the Air Force to ground forces," saying airstrikes against terrorist headquarters, weapons manufacturing facilities, terror tunnels and missile launch sites reduce threats to the ground operation.
He also announced that the IDF had conducted about 10.000 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip since the war with Hamas broke out almost two months ago. On the other hand, according to Israeli sources, some 10.000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip against communities in Israel.
"Our policy is clear - we will strike violently at any threat against our territory," he added.
A short time later, the Israeli military announced that it had neutralized the commander of the Shati Battalion of Hamas in an airstrike by a fighter jet. The commander was responsible for carrying out raids on Israeli soil in the Oct. 7 attack, the IDF spokesman said.
צה״ל ביישן מודייניש של שב"כ ואמ"ן חיסל through a fighter plane of חיל האמר את היט'ם חואג'רי, commander of גדוד שאטי של הטורור חמאס, אשר אשר אשר אשרו מתוי פשיטה לאטעשי ישראל ב-7.10. pic.twitter.com/CNj5L2hLS7
At the same time, Israel's top domestic security official, Ronen Barr, said Israel was determined to eliminate Hamas worldwide, even if it took years, according to a recording broadcast by Kan public broadcaster.
"The cabinet set us a goal, to eliminate Hamas. We are determined to do so. This is our Munich. Everywhere: in Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar, everywhere.” the Shin Bet chief said.
Barr is the director of the Israel Security Service, also known as Shin Bet, which is Israel's domestic security agency, tasked with fighting terrorism.
Barr's reference to Munich is a reference to what happened on September 5, 1972, during the Munich Olympics, when two Israelis were killed and nine held hostage by members of Black September, a Palestinian terrorist movement demanding the release political prisoners from Israel.
Qatar and the US hold talks on a new truce in Gaza
Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani spoke on Sunday with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories, stressing the need for de-escalation and a ceasefire , the country's state news agency reported.
Qatar reaffirmed its commitment to ongoing efforts aimed at restoring calm in the region. Last month, Qatar brokered a deal between Israel, Hamas and Egypt, in coordination with the United States, to release foreign nationals and seriously injured Palestinian civilians from Gaza to Egypt.
Over 850 people crossed the Gaza border within 48 hours
Meanwhile more than 850 dual nationals crossed the border from Gaza into Egypt on Saturday and Sunday through the Rafah border crossing, according to an Egyptian border official.
Of the 871 who passed through Egypt, 17 had American citizenship and 130 Turkish citizenship, while there were also Palestinians with citizenship of Egypt, South Africa, Germany, Canada, Australia and Denmark.