Hamas losses mount as IDF advances towards Gaza City stronghold

Israel has lost 17 soldiers to date in the fighting since the ground incursion began Friday.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hamas losses are mounting as the IDF uses a combined air and ground attack in the Gaza Strip, moving slowly and carefully towards its Gaza City stronghold laced with a huge network of terror tunnels, hidden roadside bombs and ambush sites.

“With advance planning, precise intelligence and joint attacks [from the land, air and sea], our forces broke through Hamas’s front lines of defense in the north of the Gaza Strip,” IDF chief spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Wednesday.

“We are at the gates of Gaza City,” 162nd Division commander Brig. Gen. Itzik Cohen told journalists. The IDF is not rushing in, however, he added. It will be “a long task” to eliminate the Iran-backed terror organization that has reigned dictatorially in the Gaza Strip since 2007.

His troops are ready and morale is high, he added.

“We believe in this mission. This is a war for the existence of the State of Israel and we will win it,” he said.

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There have been “fierce battles” in Gaza,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also told the press. Hamas is “suffering severe blows. More than 10,000 munitions were dropped on Gaza City, thousands of targets were hit, thousands of sites were destroyed, thousands of terrorists have been eliminated.”

In the latest fighting overnight, the Golani Brigade eliminated “dozens” of Hamas fighters in “prolonged battles,” the army said, in which air support was called in from the sea as the troops faced rocket fire and had explosive devices and grenades thrown at them. Artillery and tank forces also struck to aid the ground troops.

Groups of gunmen were killed in other sites in northern Gaza as well, with air units successfully directed by soldiers under fire to hit their attackers.

In one airstrike, the IDF killed the head of Hamas’s anti-tank guided missile force, Muhammad A’sar.

It was an anti-tank missile that killed the majority of the 17 IDF soldiers who have died so far in the fighting, when a Hamas force launched one at an armored APC and 11 soldiers of the Givati Brigade died in the blast.

Since the Namer armored personnel carrier they were in was supposed to be protected by the most sophisticated anti-missile system the IDF uses even on its tanks, the incident is being thoroughly investigated, Hagari noted to the Israeli press.

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Three hundred and fifteen IDF soldiers were lost on the first day of fighting, which took place in Israel when some 2,000 heavily armed Hamas terrorists invaded the Gaza envelope on October 7. Border troops were killed in their bases in the surprise assault and the others when dashing to the battle sites from all over the country as the news spread of the widespread attacks, in which the terrorists slaughtered 1,100 civilian men, women, children and babies, and took 242 hostages back to the Gaza Strip.