Israeli fighter jets continued to pound the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday, targeting Hamas command centers and other assets and killing a senior commander in the Palestinian terror group, as the terror group fired long-range rockets toward both Haifa and Eilat later in the day.
Hamas boasted that it launched a long-range rocket from the Gaza Strip at Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat. The rocket did not set off sirens in Eilat or any other towns in the south, and the IDF later said that the projectile landed in an open area, causing no injuries or damage.
Earlier the terror group also claimed to fire a long-range R160 missile toward the Haifa area, setting off sirens in the northern towns of Daliyat al-Karmel and Kerem Maharal. The IDF said the projectile exploded in mid-air.
Also Wednesday, the IDF denounced Iran for allegedly taking an active part in preparing Hamas for the current war.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said at a press conference Wednesday that Iran had directly aided Hamas ahead of the October 7 onslaught, which saw thousands of terrorists infiltrate into southern Israel. The gunmen burst into border communities as well as the site of an outdoor music festival and butchered over 1,000 civilians, including women, children and the elderly, killed over 300 members of security forces and kidnapped at least 224 people into Gaza, in the worst terror attack in Israel’s history.
“Iran directly aided Hamas before the war, with training, supplying weapons, money and technological know-how,” Hagari charged. “Even now, Iranian aid to Hamas continues in the form of intelligence and online incitement against the State of Israel.”
Later in the day, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States of “directing” strikes Israel has been carrying out on Hamas, calling the US “a definite accomplice of criminals,” during a speech in Tehran.
“The United States is in some way directing the crime that is being committed in Gaza,” he said, suggesting the hands of Americans “were tainted with the blood of the oppressed, children, patients, women and others.”
As the cross-border fire intensified, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak — who has vehemently backed Israel’s right to exist and visited last week — said he supports a pause in fighting to allow aid into Gaza, but rejected calls for a full ceasefire.
Israel has made clear it intends to continue its military campaign against Hamas until the terror group is eliminated from Gaza. It has not explicitly ruled out the potential for a humanitarian pause.
Sunak told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the United Kingdom is working to get aid into besieged Gaza, including a Royal Air Force plane carrying 21 tons of aid that is flying to Cyprus on Wednesday bound for the region.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Wednesday that it will be forced to stop its work in Gaza unless it receives fuel immediately.
“Time is running out. We urgently need fuel,” said UNRWA communications director Juliette Touma.
Israel has adamantly rejected the possibility of allowing fuel to enter Gaza, and has accused Hamas of hoarding fuel and refusing to hand it over to hospitals.
The IDF said Wednesday that one of its overnight airstrikes killed the commander of Hamas’s North Khan Younis Battalion, Taysir Mubasher, who according to the IDF previously served as head of Hamas’s naval forces and also held several positions related to the terror group’s weapon manufacturing.
“Mubasher has extensive experience in the military and as a commander, directing terror attacks, and he is considered close to Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’s military wing,” the IDF said in a joint statement with the Shin Bet security agency.
The IDF said Mubasher had been behind a deadly 2002 attack at the Atzmona pre-military academy in the former Gush Katif bloc of Gaza settlements, among other attacks against IDF forces when Israel controlled the Gaza Strip before 2005, as well as a Hamas infiltration into Israel via Zikim beach in 2014.
צה״ל חיסל בהכוונת מידע מודיעיני מדויק של אמ"ן ושב"כ, את מפקד גדוד גזרת צפון חאן יונס של ארגון הטרור חמאס, תיסיר מבאשר. בעברו, שימש כמפקד הכוח הימי של ארגון הטרור והחזיק במספר תפקידים במערך ייצור אמצעי לחימה >> pic.twitter.com/Jl2MnaM4Og
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 25, 2023
In total, the IDF said, it had carried out dozens of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip overnight, including against Hamas tunnels, command centers, weapons storage sites and mortar and anti-tank missile launch sites.
The IDF said strikes also targeted war rooms, infrastructure and command centers belonging to Hamas’s so-called emergency operational apparatus.
According to the IDF, the apparatus has been responsible for setting up blockades preventing Palestinians from evacuating from northern Gaza to its south, as Israel has advised residents to do as it intensifies strikes in the Gaza City area and prepares for an expected major ground incursion aimed at rooting out Hamas.
במהלך תקיפות נרחבות ברצועת עזה ביממה האחרונה, צה"ל בהכוונת שב״כ חיסל פעילים ותשתיות טרור של חמאס. בין המטרות שהושמדו: פירי מנהרות, מפקדות צבאיות, מחסני אמצעי לחימה ועמדות שיגור פצצות מרגמה וטילי נ"ט>> pic.twitter.com/dFyU4zEMAN
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) October 25, 2023
The terror group claimed Wednesday morning that some 80 people had been killed and hundreds were wounded in the overnight Israeli airstrikes.
Hamas-controlled authorities have claimed more than 6,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the Israeli aerial offensive began. The toll cannot be verified and Hamas does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians. The tally is believed to include the victims of what Israel says are hundreds of errant Palestinian rockets aimed at Israel that landed inside the Strip. Israel additionally says it killed some 1,500 terrorists in its own territory following the mass invasion on October 7.
Hamas and other Gazan terror groups have fired many thousands of rockets toward Israeli cities since the war began, though the pace has somewhat abated in what Israel as well as analysts say is preparation for a long war.
Rockets were fired overnight and on Wednesday morning toward the coastal city of Ashkelon, as well as toward Israeli communities near the Gaza border that have largely been evacuated. There were no reports of damage or injuries in those barrages.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, at least three people were killed and several were injured in an Israeli airstrike overnight in Jenin, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Wafa news agency.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) October 25, 2023
The military said the strike had targeted Palestinian gunmen who were shooting at Israeli soldiers and hurling explosives.
On Tuesday evening, the IDF said Navy forces killed a number of Hamas terrorists who were attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza via the sea.
On Wednesday the army said it had confirmed killing two Hamas divers. Earlier Hebrew-language media reports had put the number at between five and eight.
The military issued video of the incident.
אמש זיהו בקריות שליטה ימית של זרוע הים חוליית מחבלים של ארגון הטרור חמאס.
המחבלים יצאו דרך פיר מנהרה בחוף ברצועת עזה וחוסלו כאשר ניסו לחדור לשטח ישראל במרחב זיקים דרך הים.
מטוסי קרב וכוחות זרוע הים תקפו ברצועת עזה את הפיר ממנו יצאו המחבלים ואת מחסן אמצעי הלחימה ששימש את המחבלים pic.twitter.com/g1YtlEgcIE
— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) October 25, 2023