Army calls on parts of Khan Younis to evacuate

IDF says 800 tunnels discovered in Gaza op, 500 destroyed or sealed

Military says kilometers of tunnels eliminated, many of which link Hamas’s ‘strategic assets’; IDF Arabic spokesperson urges Shejaiya battalion to surrender

Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the Gaza Strip in a photo released for publication on December 3, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that troops have discovered more than 800 tunnel shafts in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the ground offensive targeting the Hamas terror group that began in late October.

The military said that around 500 of them have already been destroyed, either by setting off large explosive charges inside or by sealing them.

According to the IDF, many of the tunnels connect Hamas’s “strategic assets.”

The military said it has also destroyed many of kilometers’ worth of tunnels, in addition to the shafts.

“The shafts were located in civilian areas, and many of them were located near or inside educational institutions, kindergartens, mosques, and playgrounds,” the IDF said.

In some of the tunnels, soldiers found Hamas weaponry.

“These findings are further proof of the cynical use that the Hamas terror organization makes of the civilian population as a human shield, and as a cover for its terror activity,” the IDF added.

Israel has vowed to topple Hamas after the October 7 massacres, in which Palestinian terrorists stormed across the border from Gaza and slaughtered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 240 hostages.

During a seven-day truce — which lapsed on Friday after Hamas did not deliver a list of hostages it intended to release and began firing rockets an hour before the truce was due to expire — the terror group released 105 civilian hostages: 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals, and one Filipino. It is believed that 137 hostages remain in Gaza.

In return, Israel released 210 Palestinian security prisoners, all women and minors. Additionally, some 200 trucks, including four tankers of fuel and four tankers of cooking gas, entered Gaza each day.

IDF urges Shejaiya battalion to surrender

Meanwhile Sunday, as the military pressed its operations to take control of northern Gaza, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, threatened Hamas’s Shejaiya battalion in a post on X.

“This is a final notice. You are all targets,” Adraee said, attaching a picture of the commanders of the Shejaiya battalion, which operates in the Gaza City neighborhood of the same name.

He said the IDF will work to destroy Hamas’s infrastructure in the neighborhood.

“You have two options: surrender and lay down your weapons, or face a fate similar to that of Wissam Farhat,” Adraee added, referring to the Shejaiya battalion commander, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike Saturday.

Overnight, the IDF said it hit Hamas tunnels, command centers, munitions warehouses, and other sites linked to Gaza terror groups.

In addition, a group of Hamas operatives were “eliminated” by a drone, directed by troops of the 7th Armored Brigade, the military said. It also said the Navy shelled targets linked to Hamas, including military infrastructure, vessels associated with the terror group’s naval forces, and weapons depots.

Amid the strikes, terrorists continued to fire rockets at border communities on Sunday morning.

Three rockets hit the southern city of Sderot, causing damage, according to the municipality.

There were no reports of injuries. Communities close to the border with the Strip have been largely evacuated of civilians since October 7.

Several other rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome over the city.

Damage is seen caused to a synagogue in the southern city of Sderot following a rocket attack from Gaza, December 3, 2023. (Sderot Municipality)

Meanwhile, the Israeli military continued to use an evacuation map for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, urging them to avoid active combat zones.

The map is intended to replace an IDF demand for mass evacuations as it did in the northern part of Gaza. Critics have said the online guide is pointless as many in the Strip are left without power or internet.

Adraee said on X that Palestinians in several zones in Khan Younis should move to specified safe areas.

The map splits the Gaza Strip into hundreds of small zones, and the military has called on Palestinians to pay attention to their area’s number and follow the IDF’s future updates.

Humanitarian situation ‘unimaginable’

The United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA said that at least 160 Palestinian fatalities were reported in two incidents in northern Gaza Saturday: the bombing of a six-story building in Jabalia refugee camp, and an entire block in a Gaza City neighborhood.

Throughout its operation, the IDF has provided evidence of Hamas and other terror groups’ use of civilian infrastructure such as schools, mosques, residential buildings, and hospitals for military purposes.

“Prior to the bombings, Israeli forces dropped leaflets ordering the evacuation of these areas,” OCHA said in a report.

In a new estimate, OCHA said about 1.8 million people — roughly 75 percent of Gaza’s population — are internally displaced, up from an earlier figure of 1.7 million. “However, obtaining an accurate count is challenging,” OCHA said.

Mohamed Abu Abed, who lives in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City, said Sunday there were relentless airstrikes and shelling in his neighborhood and surrounding areas.

“The situation here is unimaginable,” he said. “Death is everywhere. One can die in a flash.”

People check the damage in a house hit by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS / AFP)

A World Health Organization team that visited Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip found it packed with 1,000 patients — three times its capacity, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

“Patients were receiving care on the floor, screaming in pain,” Tedros wrote. These conditions are “unimaginable for the provision of health care.”

Hamas says the Israeli military campaign has killed more than 15,200 people, mostly civilians. These numbers have not been independently verified and are believed to include combatants as well as Palestinian civilians killed by errant rockets launched by terror groups.

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