The IDF has so far hit some 2,700 targets in the Strip, including 136 command centers and 40 underground facilities.
Terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched a salvo of rockets at central Israel on Thursday morning, triggering sirens around Netanya and in Ariel in Judea and Samaria, as Israel’s “Operation Swords of Iron” entered its sixth day.
The Israeli Air Force continued to pound Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday in response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror assault, which left at least 1,300 people dead and approximately 3,000 wounded.
Hamas’s elite “Nukhba” forces were targeted in a series of airstrikes, and a number of operational command centers were hit, according to the IDF. The Nukhba terrorists were one of the leading forces that infiltrated Israeli communities on the morning of Oct. 7—going on a murderous rampage and taking at least 100 hostages back to Gaza.
Since the operation began, the IDF has hit some 2,700 targets in the Strip, including 136 command centers and 40 underground facilities, according to the military.
Muhammad Abu Shamla, a senior operative in Hamas’s Rafah Brigade, was also killed during Israel’s overnight strikes, according to the IDF, which said that his home had been used to store naval weapons designated for terror attacks against Israel.
Reports from the Palestinian coastal enclave indicated that at least 51 terrorists were eliminated and another 281 injured during the Israeli aerial attacks early Thursday.
Hamas frees hostages
Avital Aldjem, a resident of Kibbutz Holit, and her friend’s two children were released from Gaza back to Israel on Wednesday by Hamas, according to footage provided by the Al Jazeera network..
IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Avihai Adraee dismissed the gesture as propaganda, vowing that Israel’s strikes would not let up.
“After the whole world saw the ugly face of the barbaric organization that executed hundreds of innocent children and women in a terrible massacre, Hamas publishes a propaganda video [via] its trumpet. It is worse than Islamic State and we will continue to strike in it powerfully, without stopping,” he said.
Clashes in Jenin
Israeli media reported that violent clashes took place between Israeli security forces and Palestinian terrorists in Jenin in Samaria overnight Thursday. According to the reports, the IDF sent in reinforcements after the clashes escalated.
Also on Wednesday, two unarmed Gazans were captured by Israeli forces in Sde Teman near Beersheva in the northern Negev region. They were transferred to the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for further investigation.
Tensions in the north
Tensions are also high in the north of Israel, where the IDF has reinforced towns and villages with reserve forces. The military’s Northern Command is to be bolstered further this week, according to the IDF.
Air-raid sirens blared across northern Israel on Wednesday night amid claims of drones and paragliders crossing the border from Lebanon.
Alerts were set off in cities including Haifa, Tiberias, Beit She’an, Kiryat Shmona, Metula, Nahariya and Safed.
Simultaneously, a telephone message from IDF Home Front Command warning of a large-scale, country-wide attack sent millions of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters.
Minutes later, the IDF confirmed “human error” was to blame for the erroneous alert.
Some 90 minutes after the alert in the north, the military said that a penetration of Israeli airspace from Lebanon had been “ruled out.”
The IDF also announced that a long-range rocket had been launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel’s north, which landed in an open area in the Carmel region near Haifa, causing no damage.
U.S. reiterates support
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department raised its travel warning to Israel to Level 3, calling on U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel” to the country. The Gaza travel warning remained at Level 4, indicating that U.S. citizens should not enter the Hamas-ruled territory.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken departed for Israel on Wednesday, where he was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and other senior officials.
Blinken will also meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, Israeli media reported.
U.S. President Joe Biden talked by phone on Wednesday with Netanyahu—their fourth conversation since the Hamas terror attack.
Netanyahu thanked Biden “for his powerful words of support, following their previous conversation yesterday, and for his unequivocal support for the state of Israel,” according to a readout of the call from Israel’s Government Press Office.
Biden and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris discussed “ongoing U.S. support for Israel as Israel defends itself and protects its people,” according to a White House statement. “The leaders agreed to stay in regular contact in the face of an unprecedented and appalling assault by Hamas terrorists.”
“This has brought to the surface scars of antisemitism and genocide,” Biden said after the phone call. “There’s no excuse for terrorism. We are committed to safety and security of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Biden also spoke with President Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday. “The president stressed his condemnation of Hamas’s terror and his warning against anyone who might seek to exploit the current situation,” according to the White House. “The two leaders also discussed the importance of ensuring humanitarian assistance reaches those in need.”
Image: Rockets are fired from Gaza towards Israel, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Oct. 10, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.