IDF forces continued to pummel Hamas Monday,
as Operation Cast Lead's 10th
day saw numerous clashes between Israeli troops and Hamas gunmen in several terror hubs in northern and central Gaza.
Sources estimated that somewhere between 80 and 100 terrorists were killed Monday, and 100 wanted gunmen were apprehended and taken in for interrogation.
Hamas seems to have intensified its attempts to strike back at the advancing forces, utilizing mortar fire, snipers and booby trapped building and gunmen strapping explosive belts, to that effect
IDF sources reported of several cases in which suicide bomber lunged at the troops but failed to detonate. In one case, the soldiers were able to neutralize the explosives and arrest the gunmen. Hamas operatives are also incessantly trying to abduct soldiers.
The fighting became more intense at nightfall and the IDF had to use heavy artillery fire.
IDF forces making their way through Gaza deployed according to their operational goals, tightening their vise on the city.
Pummeling terror (Photo: AFP)
The IDF's movement through the area, which is riddled with traps, explosive devises, anti-tank weapons and tunnels, is slow and guarded; and they are slowed further by the constant need to neutralize weapons and destroy caches and battle stations.
The Air Force is simultaneously striking various symbols of Hamas' regime, as well as tunnels along the Philadelphi Route and rocket launching pads.
Despite the relentless attacks, Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – its military wing – seem to have caught their second wind: Hamas' political and military leaders may be in hiding, but the presence of the field operatives is very well felt and they are not lacking in motivation.
Hamas rocket launching capabilities seems to be largely intact as
well, although diminished due to the lack of supplies.
The IDF divided the Strip into three, making it even harder to move supplies from Gaza's central and southern areas to it north, but the Gaza City warehouses still hold large numbers of weapons – hundreds of long-range Grad rockers that can reach Beersheba, dozens of mid-range Grads capable of hitting Ashkelon and thousands of Qassam rockets.
Rocket launching cells have managed to fire some 40 rockets and mortar shells a day at Israel.
Neither the IDF nor the political echelon venture guessing how long the Gaza offensive may last, with careful assessments spanning from several days to several weeks, depending on the progress made in way of a possible ceasefire.
The campaign may even be widened further, should the cabinet see fit to do so.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report