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IDF completes clearance op in southern Gaza City neighborhood

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Israel launched the clearance operation in Zeitoun ahead of an initiative that will see local community leaders govern the district.

Akiva Van Koningsveld


The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday night announced it completed a two-week-long clearance operation in the southern Gaza City district of Zeitoun, killing more than 100 terrorist operatives and destroying infrastructure used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

IDF ground troops first entered Zeitoun, once considered a major Hamas stronghold, in mid-November. On Nov. 20, the IDF announced that of 188th Brigade soldiers took control of key structures belonging to the terror group’s Zeitoun Battalion.

However, earlier this month, four Gaza City residents told the Associated Press that Hamas is attempting to reestablish its governing capabilities in areas of the Gaza Strip from which Israeli forces have withdrawn, deploying police officers and paying partial salaries to civil servants.

Weapons found by Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the southern Gaza City district of Zeitoun. Credit: IDF.

As Israel prepares to carry out a pilot program that will see community leaders replace Hamas in governing Zeitoun, the IDF launched a large-scale clearance operation in the district on Feb. 19.

According to the army, “soldiers eliminated over 100 terrorists and located and destroyed over 35 terrorist infrastructure belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including weapons storage and manufacturing facilities.”

Troops also unearthed tunnel infrastructures, rocket launching sites with “hundreds of launchers,” and a site belonging to the leader of Hamas’s Gaza City Brigade, Izz ad-Din Haddad, the IDF announced.

Using drones, the 401st Brigade identified and captured dozens of Hamas terrorists, who, after interrogation, provided intelligence information that “will assist in future activities,” according to the IDF.

An Israeli Air Force strike on a terrorist cell that fired an anti-tank missile towards IDF forces. Credit: IDF.

Some of the terrorists were hiding among civilians in Zeitoun, the army added, sharing footage of a Hamas force using an ambulance as cover.

The video shows a Hamas terrorist cell attempting to fire an anti-tank missile at Israeli forces. An Israel Air Force jet quickly strikes the terror squad. Several terrorists were eliminated in the strike—the rest were seen escaping and hiding in an ambulance.

In another incident, Israeli forces identified a Hamas sniper who fired from a nearby building. An IAF airstrike eliminated the danger.

Earlier on Sunday, the IDF announced it was widening its operation in the former Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. The military confirmed it had carried out a massive wave of strikes, with the IAF and artillery forces hitting some 50 targets within six minutes.

Also on Sunday, the IDF cleared for publication that Sgt Maj. (res.) Dennis Yekimov from Beersheva, a soldier in the Bislamach Brigade’s 17th Battalion, was killed in action in the southern Strip on Saturday.

Yekimov’s death brings the total number of IDF soldiers killed since Hamas launched its war against the Jewish state on Oct. 7 to 586.

Image: Israel Defense Forces activity in the southern Gaza City district of Zeitoun, March 3, 2024. Credit: IDF.

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