IDF in ‘fierce’ battles with Hamas after storming terror tunnels ‘deep inside Gaza' as Brit ex-Colonel hails ‘progress' | The Sun

ISRAEL'S forces are in 'fierce battles' with Hamas fighters after storming Gaza's sprawling tunnel network and attacking underground compounds.

Israeli troops made "significant progress" in their ground offensive as they continued advancing deeper into the besieged enclave.

Israel said that IDF forces are "waging fierce battles against terrorists of the terrorist organisation Hamas deep in the Gaza Strip."

It said that ground and air forces hit Hamas positions and anti-tank guided missile squads, killing dozens of Hamas fighters and seizing weapons.

Israeli troops were pictured marching through Gaza after striking more than 300 targets overnight.

It comes after footage showed tanks and troops ploughing into Gaza and wiping out 600 terror targets in 24 hours.

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Israel said today that troops attacked Hamas gunmen inside Gaza's vast tunnel network – where the terror group is believed to be hiding hostages.

The tunnels are a key objective for Tel Aviv as it expands ground operations inside Gaza to wipe out Hamas following the gun rampage three weeks ago that killed over 1,400 Israelis.

Speaking about the  "second stage" of war, former British military commander Colonel Richard Kemp said that Israel has made "significant progress".

He told The Sun: "I think the IDF moved into the Gaza strip in significant military strength, with tanks, infantry engineers supported by artillery attack, helicopters and UAVs.

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"And they're making quite significant progress, there have been reports today that they have destroyed a great deal of the Hamas infrastructure inside Gaza, killed around four senior Hamas leaders.

"As far as I'm aware, there have been either none or very limited Israeli casualties, but that hasn't yet been confirmed. So I think it's so far progressing pretty well."

It comes as:

  • IDF soldier Ori Megidish was rescued after she was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu rejected all calls for a ceasefire saying "this is a time for war"
  • Gaza's humanitarian crisis continues to worsen as aid trucks struggle to enter and Palestinian authorities claim thousands have been killed
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu slammed "cruel" Hamas hostage video
  • Israel said that German tattoo artist Shani Louk was tortured and beheaded after a skull fragment found
  • A pro-Hamas terrorist was shot dead in Jerusalem after stabbing a police officer

Israel made use of the long-range Arrow defense system for the first time as it intercepted a surface-to-surface missile launched from the "Red Sea area."

The IDF said that Arrow intercepted the missile "at the most appropriate operational time and location."

Later Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen issued a video statement claiming to have fired ballistic missiles and drones at Israel, before threatening to carry out more strikes.

The IDF said it killed Hamas fighters in ground attacks and air strikes and hit targets including anti-tank missile and rocket launch posts as well as military compounds inside underground tunnels.

It said in an update: "During the expanded ground operations, numerous Hamas terrorists have been killed; Hundreds of additional military targets were struck.

"Over the last day, combined IDF combat forces struck approximately 300 targets." 

It added that Hamas responded with machine gun fire and anti-tank missiles.

Israel said: "The soldiers killed terrorists and directed air forces to real-time strikes on targets and terror infrastructure."

Asked about the next stage of the offensive and a potential escalation, Kemp believes more troops will soon be moving into Gaza.

He added: "I think there'll be probably a continuation of strikes from the air while the ground operations are going forward, and probably an increase in the number of IDF forces inside Gaza.

"And it may well be that as well as trying to destroy Hamas inside Gaza they try and push the civilian population out to the north of Gaza, and prevent those civilians who've already left from returning into Northern Gaza from the south."

The IDF also released a radio recording where the head of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman told troops in the Gaza Strip that there can be “no result other than victory”.

He can be heard saying: "Southern Command stations, commander is speaking.

"We are launching an attack on Hamas and the terror groups in the Gaza Strip. Our goal is one, victory.

"No matter how long the fighting will be, how difficult, there is no other result but victory.

"We will fight professionally and powerfully in light of the IDF values ​​we were raised on. Chief among them is sticking to the mission and striving for victory.

"We will fight in the alleys, we will fight in the tunnels, we will fight where necessary. We will strike the terrible enemy that stands before us."

It comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected international calls for a cease-fire and vowed to crush the terrorist group.

Following the first successful rescue of a hostage, Israel's PM ruled out the possibility of a ceasefire and said "this is a time for war".

He said: "This will not happen" adding that Israel would "fight until this battle is won".

"Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas."

IDF soldier Ori Megidish was rescued yesterday after 23 days, when she was taken hostage by Hamas in the October 7 attack.

Israel declared war on Hamas following the attacks in which 1,400 Israelis were slaughtered and some 230 were kidnapped and dragged deep into Gaza.

The country's relentless air strikes have been followed by an all-out ground offensive as Israel pounded the Gaza Strip in the past days.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army demolished the family home of Hamas senior official Saleh al-Arouri.

According to a CNN analysis, Israeli troops have advanced more than two miles into Gaza.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus, said ground operations in Gaza are focused on the north, including Gaza City, which he said was the center of gravity of Hamas"

"But we also continue to strike in other parts of Gaza. We are hunting their commanders, we are attacking their infrastructure, and whenever there is an important target that is related to Hamas, we strike it," he added.

The Israeli military released footage showing soldiers walking across an open area as heavy gunfire echoes in the background and setting up a position in the ruins of a heavily damaged building.

Conricus added that 800,000 people have heeded the Israeli military's orders to flee from the northern part of the strip to the south.

But tens of thousands of people remain in and around Gaza City, and casualties are expected to mount on both sides as the battle moves into dense, residential neighbourhoods.

Gaza's humanitarian crisis continues to worsen as according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, the death toll of Palestinians has passed 8,300 since October 7 – while over 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side.

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The World Health Organization said two hospitals have been damaged and an ambulance destroyed in Gaza over the last two days.

A strike near the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City sent debris and dust pouring into the facility, which is packed with patients as well as thousands of displaced people.

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