Sep 29, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER
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The IDF announced on Saturday night that it will be expanding its ground offensive in Gaza against terrorists operating in the Strip.

“This evening, the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge expands as additional forces join the effort to combat terror in the Gaza Strip and establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security,” the IDF said in a statement.

“Our goal remains, to strike a significant blow to Hamas’ terror capabilities so that the citizens of Israel can live in safety and security,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit tweeted.

Operation Protective Edge, which has entered its 13th day, launched a sweeping ground operation late Thursday evening after ten days of continued rocket fire on Israeli cities. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror organization in Gaza have relentlessly fired missiles in cities all over Israel as well as infiltrated Israeli territory via the use of terror tunnels.

Ground forces, in conjunction with air and naval support, are aiming to eradicate rocket fire from Gaza militants and destroy the large network of Hamas terror tunnels which are used to smuggle weapons and terrorists.

The IDF confirmed that thus far, 34 tunnel shafts have been uncovered by the army, leading to the discovery of 22 tunnels. Two tunnels, both reaching into two Israeli kibbutz’s, have been fully demolished by the army.

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IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner explained that Hamas is feeling the pressure trying to defend its tunnel infrastructure. Majority of the ground offensive is centered in the northern Gaza Strip where the tunnels are more prevalent.

“Hamas is really trying to defend their infrastructure and much of the context is in and around the tunnel areas,” he stated, describing the infrastructure as “an entire underground Gaza.”

On Thursday, 13 Hamas terrorists were ambushed by IDF soldiers waiting for the terrorists to emerge near an Israeli kibbutz from a tunnel. Eight of the terrorists were killed in the fighting on their way to carry out a “killing spree” in the nearby kibbutz.

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, 50,000 reservists have been called up to the Gaza border. The army has the ability to call up an additional 18,000 reservists.

Five Israeli soldiers have so far been killed, including two in separate incidents on Saturday.

On Saturday evening, a Hamas terrorist gunman, disguised as an IDF soldier, emerged from a terror tunnel which began in southern Gaza and opened fire on IDF forces. Sergeant Adar Barsano, 20, and Maj. (res.) Amotz Greenberg, 45, were killed by a group of Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel via a tunnel from Gaza. The terrorists were disguised as IDF soldiers and opened fire on forces stationed by a nearby kibbutz.

The soldiers returned fire and killed one of the terrorists. The second terrorists escaped back to Gaza. After the thwarted attack, it was discovered that the terrorists had on them sedatives and binding equipment, evidence that they were planning on abducting Israeli citizens.

Earlier Saturday, 21-year-old Second Lieutenant Bar Rahav, an IDF combat engineer from Ramat Yishai, was killed when an anti-tank missile was fired towards his paratrooper position.

Sergeant Benaya Rubel, a paratrooper, aged 20 from Holon, was killed in clashes in the Gaza Strip.

On Saturday morning, two IDF soldiers were killed during a Hamas raid in Ein Hashlosha near Gaza.

IDF Spokesman Lerner said that since the start of the ground operation, 70 terrorists have been killed. Official figures indicate that 357 Palestinians have died in Gaza and seven Israelis.

Since the beginning of the ground offensive, 190 rockets have been fired upon Israel, with 63 of those intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.