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  4. Israeli kills dozens of Hamas militants including two commanders in overnight strikes

Israeli kills dozens of Hamas militants including two commanders in overnight strikes

Israel launched airstrikes targeting Hamas assets in multi-story buildings, tunnel shafts, weapons storage sites and command centres. This comes as Israel vowed to step up attacks on the Gaza Strip for the ground assault.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Updated on: October 22, 2023 20:57 IST
Israeli airstrikes have wreaked havoc on the Gaza Strip
Image Source : AP Israeli airstrikes have wreaked havoc on the Gaza Strip

As Israeli airstrikes continued to pound Gaza, dozens of Hamas militants were killed in overnight strikes at the Strip, including two commanders of the 'Nukhba' (elite) forces. According to the Israel Defence Forces, one of the militants was the deputy commander of Hamas' rocket array.

The deputy commander was identified as Muhammad Katamash, in charge of the Hamas fire brigade and artillery. The IDF claimed that he had a significant involvement in planning and executing the militant group's firing plans towards Israel during the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

"On the last day, the IDF destroyed infrastructure and terror operatives of the terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip; as part of the attacks during the night, more than 300 weapons were used. The IDF is working to eliminate Hamas terrorists and last night eliminated two terrorist operatives near the fence, operatives from the Najaba force and other terrorists," said the IDF on platform X.

The Times of Israel reported the Israeli military saying that other Hamas militants were also killed in the incident, but did not explain further. The 'Nukhba' unit is reportedly responsible for leading the deadly attack on Israel on October 7.

The targets hit overnight include Hamas assets in multi-story buildings, tunnel shafts, weapons storage sites, command centres, and mosques used as war rooms by the terror group, according to the IDF.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the IDF spokesperson, also confirmed that dozens of Hamas members, including the deputy commander of the terror group’s rocket array, were killed in overnight strikes.

“We are increasing the attacks in the Gaza Strip in order to reduce the threats to our forces in preparation for the next phase of the war,” he said.

Meanwhile, Israeli aircraft struck a compound beneath a mosque in the occupied West Bank earlier on Sunday, allegedly being used by the militants to organise attacks on Israel. Palestinian officials said at least one person was killed.

The Israel-Hamas war

Meanwhile, as Israel prepares for a sweeping ground operation in the Gaza Strip, it has also vowed to step up its aerial strikes in the besieged Palestinian territory to create the “best conditions” for troops to move in.

Additionally, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said that they should expect surprises prepared by terror groups when they enter the Gaza Strip, in a clear indication of Israel's next stage of operations.

"We will enter the Gaza Strip. We will begin an operational and professional mission to destroy the Hamas operatives, the Hamas infrastructure, and we will also keep in our minds the images, the scenes and the fallen from Shabbat (Saturday) two weeks ago,” Halevi told the commanders.

Israeli airstrikes also targeted two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by militants, sparking concerns that the conflict will spiral out to other countries in the Middle East.

However, the Israeli military has acknowledged that there are still hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians in northern Gaza despite a sweeping evacuation order, which would complicate any ground attack.

On Saturday, 20 trucks of desperately-needed aid including medicine and food were allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing, the first time anything has gone into the territory since Israel imposed a complete siege two weeks ago.

More than 1,400 people - including civilians and soldiers - have been killed in the Hamas attack on Israel over two weeks ago. On the other hand, more than 4,300 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry run by Hamas. That includes a disputed number of people who died in a hospital explosion earlier this week.

(with AP inputs)

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