IDF Chief of Staff LTC Herzi Halevi announced Sunday that Israeli forces had launched ground operations in southern Gaza in an extension of those that have been taking place in the northern part of the enclave since last month.
By the time the week-long “hudna” (temporary ceasefire) with Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization on Friday, November 24, the IDF had dismantled two Hamas brigades, albeit “not completely yet,” Halevi noted.
The “hudna” ended early Friday morning (December 1) with Hamas violating the “pause” both with early-morning rocket fire and by not keeping its commitment to release 10 living Israeli women and children on the seventh round of exchanges, during which Israel released three convicted Palestinian Authority terrorists from prison for each freed Israeli hostage. On the final day, Hamas released only eight hostages and of those, just two were under age 19.
Following Hamas’ violation of the operational pause agreement, the fighting in the Gaza Strip resumed and the IDF soldiers are continuing the ground operation in cooperation with aircraft of the IAF.
The cooperation between the ground forces and the IAF is one of the most prominent elements in the IDF’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip.
“The 162nd Division is still working inside [in northern Gaza] to secure our accomplishments and to strike more battalions,” Halevi said during a discussion with reservists following a tour of the Gaza Division in Southern Command.
“Yesterday, and today, we eliminated brigade commanders, company commanders, many operatives, and yesterday morning we started the same process in the southern Gaza Strip,” Halevi noted.
“It will be with no less strength than that, it will be with no less results than that, and Hamas commanders will meet the IDF everywhere in a very, very strong way.
“I know that part of this involves your capabilities, and a very large part of this is the fighting spirit that you bring [to the battle] and also the experience you bring as reservists.
“We have the capabilities to do this in the most thorough way, and just as we did it strongly and thoroughly in the northern Gaza Strip, we are also doing it now in the southern Gaza Strip as we continue to secure our accomplishments in the northern Gaza Strip,” Halevi added.