Police and IDF still working to secure border towns, rescue residents

Fighting continues in Israeli territory; Hamas claims fighters are still in at least seven villages, as well as the city of Sderot.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Fighting continued in Israeli territory Sunday as the IDF attempted to clear the villages around the Gaza Strip of the Hamas terrorists who invaded Saturday.

Hamas claimed that it still had terrorists in the city of Sderot and at least six villages, including Ofakim, Yad Mordechai, Kfar Aza, Be’eri, Yeted and Kissufim.

A police spokesman confirmed that the region is still not cleared.

“We are far from announcing that we’ve managed to wipe out all the terrorists who have entered Israeli territory,” said Eli Levi.

“Unequivocally, there are terrorists within Israeli borders,” he added, and asked citizens to continue to obey the Home Front Command’s instructions.

Near the moshav of Yeted, the IDF exchanged fire with Hamas forces, and residents were ordered to barricade themselves in their homes. Several terrorists were killed in Yeted itself.

Residents in the Kfar Aza kibbutz are still barricading themselves in their homes as of this writing, and waiting for extrication.

“Terrorists are still walking around the kibbutz,” Haaretz reported one member saying. “They are shooting on the sidewalks, hiding on roofs, some of them [are] inside the houses with hostages. There are IDF forces fighting the terrorists and evacuating people from the houses, but in practice more than half of the kibbutz [remains] …cut off from communication, without electricity, without reception, without water and food. Some of them have been wounded for over 24 hours!”

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The member begged for more help.

“Entire families, children, elderly people who are alone in their homes. Please help us and send more troops to the kibbutz!”

The IDF spokesperson said that there are no known hostage situations anywhere in the region at the moment. Separately, the army said around 11 AM that its forces found ten terrorists hiding in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and were fighting them. Exchanges of gunfire were also taking place at the time in Zikim and Kissufim.

In a morning press conference, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari announced that the army’s mission is to evacuate all the communities in the Gaza envelope.

“There are searches in a large number of towns,” he said. “There are IDF forces in all towns, there is no town that does not have an IDF force in it,” Hagari said.

Tens of thousands of Israeli troops are on the scene, including special forces.  Their task is to flush out all the terrorists in Israeli territory, while the air force continues striking terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip.

Two hostages being held in Ofakim were rescued early Sunday morning after hours of fighting and negotiating. The IDF killed ten terrorists in the village in all. The IDF also rescued all 60 hostages being held in the dining hall of Kibbutz Be’eri overnight, while neutralizing all the Hamas fighters.

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The IDF has also regained control of the Sderot police station, from which several terrorists had been firing at civilians and troops all Saturday.

The navy has also been active, patrolling the coast. It foiled an attempt Sunday morning by five terrorists to enter Israel from the sea at the Zikim beach, south of Ashkelon.

According to the IDF, as of 5AM, 29 terrorist locations had been “controlled,” more than 400 Hamas men had been killed, including those who were attempting a second invasion and those who were at the border fence fleeing back into Gaza. Dozens have been captured.

The count of those murdered by the Hamas terrorists since Saturday morning has risen to over 350. Of the over 1,800 injured, some 200 are reported to be in either critical and very serious condition.