The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Wednesday evening that it had broken through Hamas lines in both northern and southern Gaza, and that it had surrounded Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, whom it said was hiding in an underground tunnel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said earlier, in a statement, that the IDF had surrounded Sinwar’s house, which had been found vacant: “Last night I said that our forces could go anywhere in the Gaza Strip. They are currently surrounding Sinwar’s house. His home is not his castle, and he can flee, but it is only a matter of time until we find him.”
IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari then clarified that the military had surrounded Hamas positions in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, not Sinwar’s house specifically. He added, however, that Sinwar was underground, and implied that Israel knew where he was.
In his evening briefing, Hagari said:
The IDF Commando Division, the 98th Division, launched a combined assault on the Khan Yunis area in southern Gaza. Our forces are encircling the area, and the commando forces are currently conducting raids and battling Hamas terrorists. Our forces are striking targets using precise real-time intelligence; the soldiers are battling valiantly, eliminating terrorists, identifying underground infrastructure, and destroying weaponry. Simultaneously to the forces in the southern Gaza Strip, our forces are also continuing to advance in the northern Gaza Strip. The 36th Division and the 162nd Division are focused on the Jabalya and Shuja’iyya areas. It is important for the public to understand that in the past 48 hours, these three divisions, along with another division in the east, have been fighting intensely against terrorists. In the Jabalya, Shuja’iyya, and Khan Yunis areas, we have broken through their defensive lines. The terrorists are now emerging from the underground tunnels and engaging our forces in close combat, our forces are emerging with the upper hand. Our forces will continue to further our achievements in Jabalya, Shuja’iyya, and also in the Khan Yunis area – the heart of Hamas’ terror.
In the north, throughout the day, the IDF attacked a Hezbollah operational command center and terror infrastructure. IDF forces responded with fire to the sources from which several rockets were launched into Israeli territory during the day.
The Aerial Defense Forces intercepted a surface-to-surface missile launched towards our territory in the Red Sea area. This interception was carried out using the “Arrow” defense system with assistance from the “Iron Dome” system. The debris from the interception did not endanger the city of Eilat, and the threat was removed at long range, in the Red Sea. This terrorist activity is Houthi terror activity. It is regional terrorism – directed, funded, and orchestrated by Iran. It is a global problem – affecting all parts of the region. Our talks with the United States Central Command, as we understand, are already leading to the establishment of task forces in the Red Sea and other areas to address the issue. We are on a high level of preparedness in all sectors, both defensively and offensively.
Sinwar is the target of growing frustration among Palestinian civilians, who reportedly blame him for their plight. The fact that Hamas hides in tunnels while exposing civilians to the risks of war, as human shields, is becoming a repeated theme of criticism in Gaza.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.