Israel’s army chief said 16-20 members of the Hamas terror group were killed in a firefight in November when an IDF special forces operation in Gaza went awry, and not seven, as had previously been believed. An Israeli officer was also killed in the November incident, and a second Israeli soldier was badly injured.
Outgoing IDF chief-of-staff Gadi Eisenkot said in a television interview broadcast by Hadashot news on Saturday night that the IDF had to use considerable force to extricate its troops from Gaza when the November 11 undercover operation ran into problems.
“Sixteen to 20 Hamas people were killed. Forty to 60 were injured,” he said, noting that there was “wide use of force” in order to save the troops.
Previously, Palestinian officials said seven Hamas gunmen, including a local commander, were killed in the firefight after the Israeli troops were exposed.
While the raid was not botched, he clarified, mistakes were made, and the IDF was learning the relevant lessons. He also said there were “heroic” actions by soldiers involved.
A Channel 10 report said the failure of the operation caused harm not only to the IDF “but also to other Israeli organizations.”
The interview with Eisenkot was recorded several days ago, but was broadcast soon after Hamas held a press conference in Gaza at which it unveiled what it said was video surveillance footage surrounding the Israeli special forces raid.
The terror group also offered a $1 million reward for information that would lead to the identities of the special forces team.
The November 11 operation, details of which the Israeli military has kept largely under gag order, turned deadly when the undercover soldiers were spotted near Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. The incident prompted Hamas to vow revenge and led to the deadliest escalation between the two sides since the 2014 war. The Israeli military censor again placed a gag order on some of the claims made by Hamas on Saturday.