Next stage of war

IDF encircles Hamas stronghold of Jabaliya

The ground operation has concentrated on northern Gaza but is expected to expand to the Strip's south in the future stages of the war.

IDF troops inside Gaza on November 21. Photo: IDF Spokesman
IDF troops inside Gaza on November 21. Photo: IDF Spokesman

(TIMES OF ISRAEL) – The Israeli army said on Tuesday that its forces have completed the encirclement of the city of Jabaliya, and are ready to deepen the fighting as they sought to take control of one of the last major Hamas strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip.

Describing the battles that were being spearheaded by the Israel Defence Forces 162nd Division, the army said that it first hit Jabaliya with heavy artillery and air strikes to “prepare the ground for battle”.

Troops of the 401st Armored Brigade and the Nahal Infantry Brigade also battled Hamas operatives on the outskirts of the city, and the forces found and destroyed several rocket launchers in the area. Three tunnel entrances, with Hamas operatives inside, were struck, the IDF added.

In the northern part of Jabaliya, troops of the 551st Reserve Brigade and other special forces worked to open up a route for the division to manoeuvre, the IDF said and added that the troops killed several Hamas gunmen, seized weapons and destroyed tunnels.

The northern city of Jabaliya is considered to be a Hamas stronghold and has been a key target in the IDF’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which was launched after October 7.

Also on Tuesday, the IDF announced the deaths of two more soldiers killed in fighting in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in the ground operation against Hamas to 68. The soldiers were identified as Cpt. (res.) Arnon Moshe Avraham Benvenisti Vaspi, 26, and Staff Sgt. Ilya Senkin, 20.

The ground operation has concentrated on northern Gaza but is expected to expand to the Strip’s south in the future stages of the war.

Jabaliya is home to the Indonesian Hospital. Earlier this month, the IDF said that it had compiled intelligence documents showing the presence of a tunnel network underneath the hospital, as well as aerial imagery showing rocket launchers a few dozen metres from the complex.

Fighting outside of the Indonesian Hospital has intensified in recent days, and 12 people were allegedly killed in a strike against the hospital overnight on Sunday.

However, the claim could not be verified and the IDF did not comment on the allegations.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday that hundreds of patients and displaced people were still trapped inside the hospital.

Meanwhile, Israel carried out airstrikes against 250 Hamas targets in the past day across Gaza, the IDF said earlier on Tuesday and added that it had destroyed the Hamas rocket launcher used to fire at central Israel on Monday. The launcher was said to have been positioned adjacent to a residential building, and after the strike, women and children sheltering there fled the area.

Meanwhile, amid the ground operation, the IDF stated that the 14th Brigade found an anti-tank missile hidden under an infant’s bed in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims that over 13,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, including at least 5500 children and 3500 women. The figures provided by the terror group cannot be independently verified and do not differentiate between civilians and Hamas operatives, and also do not distinguish between those killed by Israeli airstrikes and those killed by failed Palestinian rocket launches.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces two weeks ago captured two terrorists from Gaza in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, nearly a month after they first entered the country during the October 7 rampage, the Border Police and the Shin Bet security agency announced on Monday.

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