IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Monday evening that the military is expanding its ground operation “against Hamas strongholds.”
During his daily briefing, he said “We have carried out precise intelligence-based strikes. The soldiers are moving from house to house, tunnel to tunnel."
The IDF is tightening its grip on the Jabaliya refugee camp and Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighborhood, as well as in Khan Younis in the south, through heavy artillery shelling and extensive air strikes. Like Jabaliya, Shijaiyah faces intense targeting.
The forces are primarily engaged in uncovering enemy positions and seeking to eliminate Hamas' observation posts on the outskirts. Arrayed against these targets are thousands of soldiers, supported by hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, ready to confront Hamas' most powerful brigades
Meanwhile, Paltel, the Palestinian telecom company, reported Monday night a total outage of communication services, including landline, cellular and Internet, in Gaza City and northern Gaza Strip, due to damages to key network components.
International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric published on Monday a video from her visit to the Gaza Strip, making only a brief mention of the Israeli held hostage there.
In a brief statement, she mentioned the captives held in the Strip, calling for "the preservation of their rights." In the same post, she also referred to "the detainees," implying those held in Israeli prisons. In the rest of the video, Spoljaric discussed the condition of hospitals in Gaza, the injured and the civilian population in the Strip and their suffering.
The White House said on Monday that an attack on three vessels in the Red Sea over the weekend constituted threats to international peace and stability.
In a briefing with reporters, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington has "every reason to believe that these attacks, while they were launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran."
Sullivan, who said he held several rounds of phone calls over the weekend regarding the developments in Gaza, also asserted the United States will continue to press for the release of additional hostages held by Hamas in the Palestinian enclave. He also said Hamas is refusing to release civilian women.
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Mathew Miller confirmed behind-the-scenes speculations by senior Israeli officials that Hamas refused to release ten Israeli women hostages who are known to be alive, leading to the collapse of a weeklong truce in Gaza, fearing that their accounts from captivity could significantly tarnish Hamas's reputation.
"It seems one of the reasons they don't want to turn women over... and the reason this pause fell apart is they don't want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody," he told the press.
At least fifty people were killed and hundreds injured in several airstrikes on two schools housing displaced persons in Gaza City’s Daraj neighborhood, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported
According to the report, ambulance crews are facing significant challenges in reaching the schools to evacuate the dead and injured, due to the intensity of the artillery shelling in the area.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday that IDF forces won’t leave Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighborhood, a major Hamas stronghold, until all terrorist group’s assets there are destroyed.
“Golani troops have returned to Shijaiyah to close the circle - this time, they won't leave until all the terrorist assets located there are dismantled,” Gallant said at an operational assessment at the Gaza border, together with Southern Command Chief Major General Yaron Finkelman and other senior officials.
Gallant recalled the intense battles of the Golani Infantry Brigade in Shijaiyah during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
The minister received updates on the ongoing battles in Shijaiyah and the Jabalia refugee camp aimed at eliminating Hamas targets, and stated that the current operation “will lead to the breakdown of the entire Gaza City area and the northern Strip.”
He added, “meanwhile, the IDF has begun operations in the southern Strip, and the fate of the terrorists there will be identical and more severe than those in the north."
Sirens were activated in the southern city of Be'er Sheva and its surroundings for the first time since the collapse of the cease-fire in Gaza over the weekend while alarms also went off in several Gaza border communities. There were no reports of injuries or impacts in populated areas.
IDF forces attacked a Hezbollah arms depot in Lebanese territory near Arab al-Aramshe in response to mortar fire toward an IDF border outpost.
Additionally, several launches from Lebanon toward the Tel Hai area and Kiryat Shmona were identified, as well as toward an outpost in the Shetula area. The IDF retaliated by striking the sources of fire and conducting artillery fire at several locations in Lebanon. Following the sirens in Kiryat Shmona, a rocket impact site was detected north of Yuvalim, near Tel Hai, with no casualties reported.
The IDF said on Monday it was acting "with force" around the city of Khan Younes in the southern Gaza Strip amid an intensive air campaign as Israeli tanks began rolling into the area.
Witnesses told AFP on Monday that dozens of Israeli tanks, troop transports and bulldozers entered Gaza at Khan Younes, near the Egyptian border.
Three IDF soldiers received minor injuries after mortar shells landed near their position close to the Lebanon border, the IDF reported Monday morning.
The soldiers were evacuated to a hospital and IDF forces have returned fire toward the location from which the mortars were fired.
Late on Monday morning, several rocket launches from Lebanon toward the area of Har Dov in northern Israel were identified, according to the IDF. The launches fell in open areas. A launch toward the area of Misgav Am in northern Israel was also identified. In response, the IDF struck the sources of the launches.
The IDF also reported on Monday that an Israel Air Force fighter jet successfully intercepted a hostile aircraft that was en route to Israeli territory from Lebanon on the previous day.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials have sought an explanation from the IDF regarding its recent airstrike on the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of numerous individuals. This request was made by the Biden administration, aiming to gain insights into the reasoning and methodology behind the attack, as disclosed by an anonymous U.S. official familiar with these sensitive discussions.
Also on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be tried as a war criminal over Israel's ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip. In a speech to a meeting of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) committee in Istanbul, Erdogan said that Gaza is Palestinian land and will always belong to the Palestinians.
Thousands of people on Monday attended the funeral of Col. Asaf Hamami, commander of Gaza Division’s southern brigade, who fell in battle on October 7 and whose body is being held in Gaza. The former chiefs of staff Aviv Kochavi and Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as Maj. Gen. Nimrod Aloni, came to the cemetery in Kiryat Shaul. Former Gaza Division commander, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who arrived at the cemetery with his wife, will eulogize Lt. Col. Hamami.
Minister of Education Yoav Kish decided that, following the events of October 7 and the Iron Swords War, two additional Israel Prizes will be awarded this year for special contributions: Mutual responsibility and civil fortitude. The awards ceremony will be held, as every year, in Jerusalem at the end of the 76th Independence Day celebrations of the State of Israel.
Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers fell in battles in the Gaza Strip, the IDF spokesperson announced early Monday morning. Sgt. Major (res.) Neriya Shaer, 36, from Yavne, who served in the Paratroopers Brigade was killed Sunday in a battle in the center of the Gaza Strip; Sgt. First Class (res.); Ben Zussman, 22, from Jerusalem, a combat engineering soldier in the reconnaissance unit of the 401st Armored Brigade was killed Sunday in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip; Sgt. Binyamin Yehoshua Needham, 19, from Zichron Ya’akov, a combat engineering soldier in the 401st Armored Brigade was killed Sunday in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip.
In addition, an IDF soldier was seriously injured in a battle in the northern Gaza Strip. The families of all of the soldiers have been notified.
The family of Yonatan Samarno, 21, who was believed held hostage in Gaza, have been informed that he was killed. Samarno was participating in the Supernova music festival in Re'im on October 7. The bodies of the two friends he attended with were found in the aftermath of the Hamas massacre; he was later believed to have been kidnapped by Hamas into Gaza. The mourning notice published by the family announced that a memorial service will be held Monday evening and mark the start of the shiva, or mourning, period.
The United States has vowed to “consider all appropriate responses” in the wake of a Houthis attack on three commercial ships in the southern Red Sea because they believed them to be connected to Israel, specifically calling out Iran, after tensions have been high for years now over Tehran’s rapidly advancing nuclear program.
“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security,” the U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement. “They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world.”
It added: “We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.”
The Houthis said the organization has decided to attack any Israeli ship, in a show of support for Gaza and does not fear U.S. reprisal. The three ships attacked on Sunday, however, did not fly under an Israeli flag, had no Israeli crew members, and did not carry any cargo destined for Israel nor originating in Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken held a call Sunday night with the Prime Minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abd al-Rahman al-Thani, and updated on his X account that he discussed with him "the ongoing efforts to facilitate the safe return of all hostages, and to increase aid levels to citizens in Gaza."
Israeli actress Gal Gadot posted on her Instagram account that "the world has failed the women of October 7th," and added that, "We claim we stand against rape, violence against women. We will not let women be victimized and then silenced. We say we believe women. Stand with women. Speak out for women." She referred to the kidnapped women still being held by Hamas in Gaza and called on the international community to do everything to ensure their immediate release.
Two months after the rapes of women during the Hamas massacre in southern Israeli communities, Gadot writes: "Women are still hostage to these rapists and the world has failed to call this situation what it is: An urgent emergency that demands a decisive response." She added that "these women cannot survive another moment of this horror."
Meanwhile, the IDF announced on Sunday evening that Haytham Al-Hawajri, the commander of Hamas' Shati Battalion, was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
According to the IDF, Al-Hawajri commanded the abduction of IDF soldiers during Hamas' assault on southern Israel on October 7. Hawajri also commanded the security of Hamas' operations at Al Shifa Hospital and led the fighting against IDF forces in the Shati refugee camp.
The IDF's 162nd Division was poised on Sunday night to launch a ground operation aimed at capturing Jabaliya, a city near Gaza City. The military effort will extend to the Jabaliya refugee camp.
First published: 09:20, 12.04.23