Dozens of Palestinian terror operatives, most of whom were said to be members of Hamas, surrendered Wednesday to IDF soldiers during raids in the southern Gaza Strip cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis.
The operatives, who came out of hiding spots with their hands raised above their heads, were taken into Israeli custody for further questioning.
In total, 150 Palestinians were arrested, but only 70 of them who were suspected of carrying out terror attacks were transferred under tight security to IDF Intelligence and Shin Bet facilities for interrogation, an IDF spokeswoman told The Times of Israel, adding to 28 operatives already captured. The remaining detainees were later released, Army Radio reported.
A picture of the Gazans posted on Facebook by Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz showed two rows of captives wearing only underwear and shoes, on their knees in the sand. They were stripped of their clothes in order to ensure they were not carrying weapons.
כך זה חייב להסתיים, כמו בתמונות האלה: כשראשי החמאס מחוסלים, או נשלפים מהמחילות בידיים מורמות. כמו האמריקנים עם בן לאדן…
The IDF said no soldiers were injured during overnight operations in the Gaza Strip, but several were lightly hurt Thursday morning in the northern part of the Strip.
More than 100 targets were struck by the IDF Wednesday throughout the entire Gaza Strip, an army spokesman said. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, the IDF hit more than 3,330 targets, including tunnels, rocket launchers, and several Hamas military headquarters.
On Wednesday morning, three Israeli paratroopers were killed in Khan Yunis, bringing the army’s death toll to 32 since the IDF began operating on the ground in Gaza last week, the army said. Two soldiers were seriously wounded and 10 more were moderately injured.
Additionally, the army on Wednesday bombed Al-Wafa hospital in Gaza City, calling it “a Hamas military compound.” The IDF said there was a command-and-control center in the hospital, a lookout post used to monitor IDF forces, and several access shafts to a tunnel network beneath the hospital.
On Tuesday the hospital was evacuated from patients and staff, the army said, but was still in use by Hamas gunmen, who continued to fire at the IDF forces. On Wednesday, prior to the airstrike, the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration confirmed that the hospital was empty of patients and staff.
The strike set off massive secondary explosions, supporting the army’s contention that there was an arms cache, perhaps of rockets, beneath the hospital.
Meanwhile, the Shin Bet announced that it had succeeded, along with the army, in either killing or incapacitate four mid-to high-level Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders, all in the Khan Yunis area.
According to the Shin Bet, the officials included the group’s Khan Yunis commander Akram Shaar, who was behind a series of attacks against Israeli soldiers and was in charge of rocket fire from the area; Mahmoud Ziada, a resident of Jabalya, who had served as a battalion commander in the northern sector; Sha’aban Dahduh, of Gaza City, also a battalion commander, whom the Shin Bet referred to as “outstanding”; and Saeed Ma’amar, also a battalion commander, in the Rafah brigade.
According to the IDF, more than 210 terrorists were killed since the ground incursion began last Thursday night, among them several high-ranking Hamas officers, including the commander of the group’s surveillance unit.
A senior Israeli security source asserted Wednesday that Hamas’s rocket manufacturing capacity had taken a strong hit during the IDF’s operation in the Palestinian enclave.
Mitch Ginsburg contributed to this report.