According to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Yahya Sinwar, the alleged mastermind behind the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, was "hiding in his bunker without contact with his associates." Sinwar is suspected of hiding in a Hamas control center beneath a Gaza Strip hospital, although Gallant did not disclose his exact location.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht compared Sinwar to Osama Bin Laden, calling him the "face of evil" for his role in Hamas atrocities. Sinwar, also known as the "butcher of Khan Younis," was jailed in the late 1980s for abducting and murdering two Israeli soldiers. After spending 22 years behind bars, he became the leader of jailed Hamas fighters. Sinwar, now listed as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" by the U.S. Department of State, was released in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap.
Now, Gallant has boasted that the IDF is tightening the noose around Gaza City while isolating Sinwar within a bunker.
"[Israel Defense Forces] … came from the north and the south. They stormed it in full coordination between land, air and sea forces. They are maneuvering on foot, armored vehicles and tanks, along with military engineers from all directions, and they have one target – Hamas terrorists," said Gallant.
Meanwhile, in a prime-time address on that same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israeli soldiers had killed "thousands of terrorists above and beneath the ground" in the Gaza Strip as the IDF invaded the 300-mile tunnel of the Hamas group. He even claimed that as the IDF "surrounded" the city, they deepened "the pressure on Hamas every hour, every day."
"In the south, the war in the Strip is progressing with a force that Hamas has never known. Since the beginning of the ground maneuver, we have destroyed countless Hamas headquarters, tunnels, bases and facilities. We are reaching places that Hamas never thought we would reach," Netanyahu said.
Palestinian deaths continue to mount as the IDF successfully secured a military stronghold in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF has used a D9R armored bulldozer, nicknamed "Doobi" or "Teddy Bear," designed to clear mines, tackle tunnels and deflect rockets to clear out explosives and demolish buildings in the Hamas-claimed territories.
Moreover, Israel has also deployed killer drones to locate tunnel entrances and specially trained military dogs to navigate the extensive tunnel network used by Hamas.
According to the IDF, a fighter jet targeted a group of approximately 10 terrorists, and subsequent ground operations identified and neutralized an anti-tank missile cell. An Israeli minister also disclosed that over 3,000 Hamas fighters had been killed in Gaza as Israeli forces intensify their efforts against the group.
Hamas-led health officials also reported that at least 23 Palestinians were killed in separate Israeli airstrikes on that same day. The Israeli offensive has resulted to over 10,000 deaths, with more than 2,300 people suspected of being buried under rubble.
But despite the mounting humanitarian toll and uncertainty about the hostages taken by Hamas, Netanyahu declared that "Operation Swords of Iron" will carry on until Hamas is gone.
"Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel. Out of the darkness and pain, we will come out stronger, more just, and more united. Together, we will fight, and with God's help, together we will win," Netanyahu said. (Related: Hamas leaders preparing for "permanent war" with Israel.)
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Watch this video from discussing the very costly gains Israel is making in its invasion of Gaza.