IDF hits over 100 Hamas targets as battles rage in Gaza; rocket hits Sderot building

Military destroys rocket launchers in Hamas stronghold of Khan Younis, pursues terror squad attempting to attack tank in central Gaza’s al-Bureij

Israel Defense Forces soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip, January 5, 2024. (IDF)
Israel Defense Forces soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip, January 5, 2024. (IDF)

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday it carried out strikes on more than 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip over the past day, hitting a range of facilities used by the terror group, as intense battles continued in the central and southern areas of the enclave.

The strikes in Gaza, carried out by air, sea and ground forces, hit Hamas command centers, launch positions, weapons depots and other infrastructure, according to the IDF.

Meanwhile, rocket sirens blared north of the Gaza border on Friday.

One rocket hit a building in the southern city of Sderot, a spokeswoman for the city said. A second rocket fell outside of the city. No injuries were reported, although the building was damaged in the direct impact.

Rocket fire has drastically declined as the army has tightened its control over the Strip, but the military has warned that the terror group still has capabilities to launch projectiles into Israel.

The operations came as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant presented his vision for a four-pronged plan for how to handle the Gaza Strip after the ongoing war with the terror group ends, with the IDF retaining full military control but no civilian presence, and local Palestinian authorities playing a central role in civil affairs.

A building in Sderot was damaged by rocket fire from Gaza on January 5, 2023. (Sderot Municipality)

It was the first time a senior Israeli official had presented a scenario for the day after the war and was meant to be discussed in a cabinet session Thursday night, which instead descended into a loud and angry dustup when right-wing ministers cried foul over IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi’s plans for the army to probe its own mistakes during the October 7 massacre.

In central Gaza’s al-Bureij, the military said troops of the Border Defense Corps’ 414th Combat Intelligence Collection Unit spotted a group of Hamas operatives attempting to attack an IDF tank.

Troops launched a pursuit after the gunmen used a drone, and the army called in a fighter jet airstrike after the operatives were spotted fleeing into a building, the IDF said, publishing footage of the strike.

In southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, reservists of the Kiryati Brigade found several rocket launch sites used to fire projectiles at Israel.


The IDF said the troops destroyed the launchers and killed “many” Hamas operatives during several battles in the area.

The IDF also stated it completed an operation in a central Gaza neighborhood, where troops located tunnel shafts, booby-trapped homes and weapons.

Troops of the 646th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade and elite Yahalom combat engineering unit were operating in the neighborhood over the past week, in an area dubbed by the IDF “the towers neighborhood” after its high-rise buildings.


“The buildings of the neighborhood were used as anti-tank missile and machine gun fire positions,” the IDF said.

It said troops battled and killed many Hamas gunmen, and located several primed rocket launchers, booby-trapped buildings, tunnel shafts and explosive devices during operations in the neighborhood.

The IDF said troops also found a warehouse and chemical lab used to manufacture weapons.

Combat engineers destroyed the Hamas infrastructure, including tunnels in the area.

War broke out following the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacres, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages, mostly civilians.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza aimed at destroying the group’s military and governance capabilities.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Thursday at least 22,600 people have been killed in the Strip since the war erupted on October 7. The Hamas figure does not differentiate between civilians and combatants and includes Palestinians killed by errant rocket fire from Gaza. Israel says it has killed 8,500 terrorists since launching the war.

Palestinians and international aid groups said the humanitarian condition in Gaza continued to be fraught.

AFPTV footage Friday from Gaza showed families continuing to seek safety from the violence, arriving in the southern border city of Rafah in overloaded cars and on foot, pushing handcarts stacked with possessions.

“We fled Jabaliya camp to Maan (in Khan Younis) and now we are fleeing from Maan to Rafah,” said one woman who declined to give her name. “(We have) no water, no electricity and no food.”

A spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, told AFP that Rafah is overwhelmed by the influx.

“The city is usually home to only 250,000 persons. And now, it’s more than 1.3 million,” said Adnan Abu Hasna.

“We have recently noticed a major collapse in health conditions” and a “significant spread” of disease, he added.

Ahmad al-Sufi, head of the Rafah emergency committee said there was an urgent need for 50,000 tents to house the refugees.

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli strikes on January 5, 2024. (AFP)

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to the region for talks on plans to wind down fighting and ultimately hand over civil control of Gaza.

During his visit, Blinken plans to discuss with Israeli leaders “immediate measures to increase substantially humanitarian assistance to Gaza,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Germany’s top diplomat Annalena Baerbock will also travel to the region, a German foreign ministry spokesman said, beginning Sunday in Israel and also meeting with Palestinian leaders.

She plans to discuss “the dramatic humanitarian situation in Gaza” and tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border, spokesman Sebastian Fischer said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves before boarding an aircraft at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, to travel to the Middle East on January 4, 2024. (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP)

Visits by Western diplomats came amid rising fears of regional war, following deadly blasts in Iran and the killing of Hamas terror chief Saleh al-Arouri in an alleged Israeli strike in Lebanon.

Hezbollah and Hamas have vowed revenge over the killing of Arouri, while Iran has blamed Israel and the United States for the twin blasts that ripped through a crowd commemorating General Qassem Soleimani, the former head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, who was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq exactly four years ago. On Thursday, the Islamic State group took responsibility for the bombings.

Hostilities also threatened to expand to Yemen after the United States and its allies jointly warned the country’s Houthi rebels of unspecified consequences unless they immediately halted attacks on Red Sea shipping carried out in solidarity with Hamas.

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