IDF says 12,000 Hamas fighters killed in Gaza war, double the terror group’s claim

Military announces air force has carried out over 31,000 strikes since October 7, including more than 1,000 in Lebanon and dozens in West bank

IDF troops seen in the Gaza Strip in a photo released by the IDF, Feb. 16, 2024. (IDF Spokesperson)
IDF troops seen in the Gaza Strip in a photo released by the IDF, Feb. 16, 2024. (IDF Spokesperson)

The Israel Defense Forces said Monday that troops have killed some 12,000 of Hamas’s estimated 30,000 gunmen in the Gaza Strip since war erupted on October 7, after a Qatar-based official for the terror group claimed it had lost half that number — some 6,000 fighters — during the four-month-old conflict.

Hamas is also believed to have thousands of operatives who are seriously wounded and unable to fight.

Numbers released Monday by the Israeli military also revealed that Israeli aircraft have carried out over 31,000 strikes since October 7, including over 1,000 in Lebanon and dozens in the West Bank.

The unnamed Hamas official’s comments earlier in the day were a rare acknowledgment from the terror group that it has suffered significant losses in the Gaza fighting and appeared to mark the first time it has differentiated between combatants and civilians in a death toll from the war.

The official also warned the terror group has the resources to keep fighting Israel and is prepared for a long war in Rafah and Gaza.

The war erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacres, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 250 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid horrific acts of brutality and sexual assault.

An armed Hamas terrorist leads a man at the Supernova music festival, near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert in southern Israel on October 7, where terrorists from Gaza massacred hundreds of people. (South First Responders/AFP)

Vowing to destroy Hamas and return the hostages, Israel launched an air and ground offensive, in which it says it is targeting all areas in Gaza where Hamas operates, while seeking to minimize civilian casualties.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said on Monday that more than 29,000 people in the Strip have been killed since fighting began, though these figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7 in addition to the 12,000 killed in Gaza since.

In December, IDF officials gave an assessment of two civilian deaths per combatant in Gaza.

“I’m not saying it’s not bad that we have a ratio of two to one,” an unnamed Israeli official told AFP at the time, noting the use of human shields was part of Hamas’s “core strategy.”

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields, providing evidence that the terror group locates operations bases under hospitals, launches rockets from schools and shelters, builds tunnels shafts under children’s bedrooms, stores weapons in and around schools and mosques, and embeds itself within the civilian population amid the ongoing war.

Hamas weapons discovered by IDF troops in a school in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, December 24, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Since October 7, the IDF says 574 soldiers have been killed — more than half of them in the October 7 onslaught — and another 2,930 troops have been wounded.

Over 31,000 airstrikes in Gaza, Lebanon, other fronts

The Israel Air Force has carried out strikes against more than 31,000 targets belonging to Hamas and other terror groups since the war began, mostly in Gaza (29,000 targets), but also in Lebanon and other fronts, racking up over 186,000 flight hours.

Of the strikes, 26,000 were carried out by fighter jets, 3,800 with attack helicopters, and 3,800 with drones.

Some 7,000 of the Gaza strikes were immediate requests by ground forces amid the offensive against Hamas. The closest strike to troops was some 80 meters away during a clash between the 401st Armored Brigade and Hamas operatives on November 18.

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli strikes on February 18, 2024. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

In Lebanon, the IAF said Monday that it had struck more than 1,000 Hezbollah sites and positions, since the terror group began its near-daily attacks on Israeli communities and military posts along the border on October 8 to support Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel has been returning fire, warning that it will no longer tolerate the presence of Hezbollah along the Lebanon frontier, where it could attempt to carry out an attack similar to the massacre committed by Hamas on October 7.

In the West Bank, the IAF has carried out 30 airstrikes against terror operatives, most of them amid counter-terrorism raids.

Israeli security forces arrest Palestinian men during a military raid the West Bank town of Tulkarem, January 3, 2024. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

Since October 7, troops have arrested more than 3,150 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,350 affiliated with Hamas. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, more than 300 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time.

An unspecified number of strikes were also carried out by the IAF in Syria against Iranian activity and its proxy groups, as well as against the Syrian Army. While Israel’s military does not, as a rule, comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed terror groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

The IAF’s helicopter array has also carried out some 500 medevacs from the Gaza Strip, transporting more than 1,000 wounded troops to hospitals.

During the war, the short-range Iron Dome air defense system has shot down thousands of rockets, the medium-range David’s Sling has downed dozens, and the long-range Arrow has intercepted six projectiles.

The IAF was also in the process of closing several of its aging Patriot batteries, and staff will be trained to operate on the Iron Dome instead. Israel plans to open new Iron Dome batteries, the first within several weeks.

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