Ground forces in Gaza
Operation commander Major General Yoav Galant
Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry
IDF deep in Strip: 50 terrorists killed
Soldiers fighting in Palestinian territory involved in close combat with Hamas cells firing mortar shells at them. Objective of each unit is to neutralize weapons amassments, tunnels openings, among other things. Operation's commanders are satisfied with progress thus far
The IDF estimates that since the start of ground operation Saturday night in the Gaza Strip as part of Operation Cast Lead more than 50 Hamas operatives have been killed. IDF sources report that the operation is going as planned and that the troops are meeting the schedule set prior to the operation's inception.
The IDF reported Sunday morning that an officer and a soldier were seriously wounded and that 20 soldiers overall were wounded by a mortar shell that landed next to a deployment of Golani troops.
According to reports coming from troops in the field, the fighting with Hamas cells, which are using a broad range of weapons including explosive devices, is at close range. Military sources have noted that though Hamas have avoided reporting official casualty counts, they estimate that dozens of terrorists have been wounded in addition to the dozens killed since Saturday night.
IDF artillery fire (Photo: Reuters)
According to the Palestinians, most of the killed were civilians and that the death count since the beginning of the fighting has reached more 500.
Israeli troops in the field are still in the initial stages of the operation and are clashing with terrorists from predetermined positions. Mortar shells are being fired at the troops, who are returning with tank fire.
Each IDF force has a list of intelligence targets in its area of operation which include terrorist infrastructure such as ammunitions batteries and potential tunnel openings. Each force has been instructed to neutralize these targets. In parallel, the IDF aims to arrest terrorists to be transferred for interrogation by security forces in Israel.
Follow up of the operation is being carried out continually by way of the Southern Command, where the operation's commander, Major General Yoav Galant, sits, and by way of the Gaza Division under the command of Brigadier General Eyal Isenberg, which is responsible for the ground operation. The IAF is tightly aiding the ground forces by attacking cells attempting to approach IDF's armed forces.
IDF brigade commanders in Palestinian territory are in command and are leading the forces. As of now, the brigade commanders are being praised by their commanders for carrying out the operation according to the objectives and targets that were agreed upon prior to the operation's launch.
In general, Defense Minister Ehud Barak defined the rough objectives of the operation as seriously damaging Hamas' capabilities and fundamentally changing the security equation in the south.