Israeli army reports end of combat operations in north Gaza

Israeli forces have concluded operations in the Jabalia area of northern Gaza after days of intense fighting and over 200 airstrikes.

They are now focusing on Rafah in southern Gaza, targeting what they describe as the last significant stronghold of Hamas battalions.

Israeli troops have discovered caches of rocket launchers, other weapons, and Hamas tunnel shafts in Rafah’s center, according to the military’s announcement on Friday.

The ongoing offensive aims to dismantle combat units reportedly entrenched in the city bordering Egypt.

Following more than two weeks of fierce fighting in Jabalia, the Israeli military announced the completion of their operation and a withdrawal to prepare for further operations in Gaza.

During this operation, Israeli troops recovered the bodies of seven hostages taken by Hamas during their October 7, 2023, incursion into Israel, which resulted in approximately 1,200 Israeli deaths.

The conflict has resulted in over 36,000 Palestinian deaths, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, and significant destruction in the densely populated enclave. A senior Israeli security official stated that Israel would not agree to any ceasefire unless it includes the return of surviving hostages. Hamas has expressed willingness for an agreement involving a prisoner exchange if Israel ceases its military actions.

In Jabalia, a crowded urban district with a history of displacement since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the Israeli military accused Hamas of converting the area into a fortified combat zone.

Israeli forces reported killing hundreds of militants, seizing large weapon caches, and dismantling a 10 km tunnel network filled with weapons. They also claimed to have killed the Hamas district battalion commander.

The high civilian toll in the conflict has been attributed by Israel to Hamas embedding fighters in residential areas, a claim Hamas denies. The extended combat in Jabalia highlights Israel’s challenges in dismantling Hamas units.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to eradicating Hamas has faced the reality of the group’s deep integration into Gaza’s social fabric. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel to devise a post-war plan for Gaza, warning that without one, military gains might be unsustainable, leading to chaos and a potential resurgence of Hamas.

In Rafah, Israeli tanks advanced into the city center on Tuesday as part of probing operations in an area that has become a focal point of the war. The military found longer-range rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, explosives, and ammunition.

Hamas displayed its ongoing capability by launching missiles at Tel Aviv on Sunday for the first time in months.

Islamic Jihad, Hamas’ ally, claimed to have fired mortar bombs at Israeli soldiers near Salah al-Din Gate on Rafah’s southern fringes.

Rafah, the last major city in Gaza yet to be captured by Israeli forces, had been a refuge for over a million Palestinians displaced by fighting. Most have now evacuated following Israeli warnings. Israel’s planned assault on Rafah has drawn international criticism, including from allies like the United States, due to the presence of displaced people.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens as the war continues, with widespread infrastructure damage and malnutrition affecting the 2.3 million residents. The United Nations has warned of an impending famine due to severely limited aid deliveries.

Scroll to Top