The IDF’s 98th Division launched a wide-scale attack Sunday night on the western part of the Gaza Strip’s Khan Younis.
Supported by special forces, the 7th Armored Brigade, the 84th Infantry Brigade and the 35th Paratroopers Brigade, the forces encircled the local refugee camp and advanced within it toward Hamas targets, including military command and control bases. Intense clashes erupted between the IDF troops and terrorists.
The ground operation was preceded by an extensive air raid by the Israeli Air Force. The main target was the headquarters of the Khan Younis Brigade, considered the "home brigade" of Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif. The IDF reported that some 50 terrorists have been killed since the morning hours in the operation in western Khan Younis, including a Hamas company commander.
Unlike the northern Gaza Strip, which has seen most of its population evacuated over weeks of high-intensity combat, the current battleground is densely populated, with Hamas using civilian sites to carry out its attack, including launching rockets from the nearby Nasser Hospital last week. The IDF has marked these sensitive areas, particularly Khan Younis’s civilian shelters, to avoid harm to non-combatants.
The operation is expected to last several days until the dismantling of Hamas' local infrastructure. The operation is led by units from the Commando Brigade, which are highly skilled in urban warfare tactics as demonstrated in previous engagements in northern Gaza.
Palestinian sources have reported Israeli advancements toward western Khan Younis and skirmishes in the surrounding area. According to a spokesperson from Hamas' health ministry, there have been "dozens of casualties and injuries" in the city, considered a key stronghold of the terrorist organization. As a result of these advancements, masses of Palestinians have begun evacuating southward toward Rafah.
Palestinian media reported that the IDF "laid siege" on Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis after fighting was reported in the area of the hospital in recent days. Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry reported that 25,295 people have been killed in the Strip since the beginning of the war, and another 63,000 have been injured.
According to the ministry's statement, about 190 Palestinians were killed and 340 were injured in the past 24 hours. The Palestinians claimed that the IDF also raided the Al-Hayer Hospital in western Khan Younis and arrested the medical staff there. Israel has not yet commented on the allegations.
The IDF announced on Monday that in recent weeks, a 900th Infantry Brigade combat team has been operating in the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza, and that during the fighting, the forces killed dozens of terrorists, raided dozens of terrorist sites and took over Hamas headquarters. The IDF notes that this is the first time since the establishment of the 900th Brigade that its troops have operated in the Gaza Strip
The IDF reported that 900th Brigade troops operated in the kasbah of the Khan Younis Governorate in the municipality of Bani Suhaila in recent days. "The forces located many weapons in the kasbah, including arms, explosives, grenades, magazines and rockets. In one of the raids, a homemade lathe used for manufacturing weapons was found and destroyed," it was reported.
The 900th Brigade combat team was moved to Khan Younis after being initially deployed in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
"This is the first time the brigade has maneuvered in tandem with armored, air and engineering forces. They worked shoulder to shoulder in face-to-face combat against terrorists, above and below ground," it was stated.
Meanwhile, the IDF rotated out the 179th Reserve Brigade, replacing it with a regular brigade for the mission of maintaining the Netzarim corridor, which splits the Gaza Strip in half.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday "We are operating intensely in the Khan Younis area and this will expand. The smoke clouds from the tanks, cannons and Air Force planes will continue to cover the skies of the Gaza Strip until we achieve our objectives, primarily the dismantling of Hamas and the return of hostages to their homes."