The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday accused the Hamas terror group of attacking Israeli troops working to open up a humanitarian corridor for Palestinians to evacuate from northern Gaza to its south.
On Saturday morning the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee announced that between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. the Strip’s north-to-south Salah a-Din road would be open for Palestinians to evacuate to southern Gaza.
The military has for weeks been urging northern Gaza residents to evacuate southward, warning them it will be focusing its military efforts on the Gaza City area, the heart of Hamas’s rule and its main base of operations in Gaza. At least 800,000 of some one million residents of the area have done so.
Israel does conduct strikes in the Strip’s south as well, and civilians have reportedly been killed there along with Hamas operatives, but its activity in those areas is far more limited.
The IDF said Hamas took advantage of the situation and launched mortars and anti-tank guided missiles at troops working to open up the road for civilians.
It said Hamas did so “in order to prevent [the road’s] opening for the movement of residents of the Gaza Strip.”
No soldiers were hurt in the attack, the IDF said.
Israel has already repeatedly accused Hamas of attempting to prevent Palestinians from evacuating northern Gaza, due to its desire to keep civilians around its centers of activity as human shields.
דובר צה"ל בערבית עדכן מוקדם יותר היום כי בין השעות 13:00-16:00 ציר "צאלח אלדין" שברצועת עזה ישמש למעבר הומניטרי לתושבי צפון הרצועה שטרם נעו דרומה למען שמירה על ביטחונם>> pic.twitter.com/oEDK97DGqi
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 4, 2023
Israeli leaders have rejected humanitarian ceasefires in the Strip as the Israeli military presses its offensive, and Jerusalem warns that Hamas will abuse any pauses in fighting for its war effort.
On Saturday the IDF said it had carried out a limited raid in the southern Strip overnight, as troops continued to push forward with their offensive against Hamas in the northern part of the enclave. It said that during the operation, troops encountered a Hamas cell that came out of a tunnel. Troops shelled the operatives, killing them, the IDF said.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza reported Israeli airstrikes overnight and into Saturday across the enclave, including the southern part of the Strip.
At the same time as the aerial bombardment, the IDF pushed forward with its ground offensive in the northern part of the enclave, with infantry and tanks encountering numerous attempts by Hamas operatives to come out of tunnels to attack troops.
The forces killed several gunmen and located the tunnels, which will be later destroyed, the IDF said.
In one encounter, the IDF said ground forces fought off a group of 15 Hamas operatives, killing several of them, and shelling their observation posts.
On Saturday evening the military released four additional names of soldiers killed in the fighting. Their deaths bring the toll of slain soldiers since Israel launched its ground operation in the Gaza Strip last week to 28, and 345 since October 7.