Israeli troops captured key Hamas outposts in Gaza City Friday, killing some 150 terror operatives in the process, the army said, as fierce fighting continued in and around Gaza City between the military and armed gunmen.
The development came as heavy fighting was reported in the vicinity of Shifa Hospital, where Israel believes Hamas’s main headquarters to be located. Palestinian reports claimed that Israeli special forces were operating in the area and that armored forces were closing in.
The Associated Press said thousands of Palestinians were fleeing from around Shifa, and joining a growing exodus to the south of the strip. The Wall Street Journal reported that authorities at the hospital had begun evacuating the medical center following orders from the IDF.
Between 50,000 and 60,000 people had previously been sheltering inside and around the grounds of the hospital, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, which there are also 2,500 patients.
On Friday evening the military asserted that a blast that Gaza health officials said had killed 13 people at the hospital compound earlier in the day had been caused by Palestinian gunmen. Hamas blamed an Israeli strike.
The IDF’s Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the explosion was caused by an errant missile launched toward Israeli forces operating near the hospital, but which missed and struck the medical center itself. Adraee cited “an analysis of the IDF’s operational systems.”
Palestinian reports said another blast at Gaza City’s Al-Buraq school killed 50 people, including Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s granddaughter. Israel has not commented on that blast and the report could not be verified. Schools in Gaza are currently inactive and it was not clear who was in the compound.
The IDF is expecting to be fighting in Gaza for a year, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Friday. The unsourced report said military commanders are being told there is no pressure to hurry and that the IDF is preparing for a year of fighting “to get to the fourth stage of this war: The entry of a new government in Gaza that is not Hamas and is not backed by the Iranians.”
The Israel Defense Forces said that in recent days, its 401st Armored Brigade led an assault on the so-called Bader outpost — the main base of Hamas’s Al-Shati Refugee Camp Battalion — located adjacent to civilian homes.
The army said that during the raid on the Bader post, troops destroyed military headquarters and rocket launching sites. Separately, the IDF said the 401st Brigade captured another Hamas post in the area and destroyed a weapons manufacturing plant, rocket launching positions and tunnels.
In another raid, the IDF said the brigade battled Hamas gunmen at the Blue Beach Resort on Gaza City’s coast. It said some 30 terror operatives were holed up at the hotel, firing anti-tank missiles at the forces. “After it was captured, it was revealed that the terrorists used the hotel rooms as a shelter, as well as for planning attacks above and below ground,” the IDF said.
Some 150 Hamas operatives were also killed by forces during the battles in the Al-Shati area.
Though rocket fire from Gaza has lessened dramatically over the course of the war, on Friday afternoon a volley was fired at central Israel from Gaza for the first time in some two days. Two people were injured by falling rocket shrapnel after Iron Dome interceptions in Tel Aviv, one of them moderately and the other lightly.
The army also said it had struck some 15,000 targets belonging to terror groups in the Strip since the beginning of the war on October 7, and seized and destroyed some 6,000 weapons, including firearms, rockets, anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, explosive devices and ammunition.
It said ground, air and naval forces continued to strike Hamas targets across the Strip, including command centers, rocket launchers, weapons depots, tunnels and other infrastructure used by the group, as well as dozens of operatives.
The military released footage showing recent strikes.
IDF says it has struck some 15,000 targets belonging to terror groups in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the war on October 7, and seized and destroyed some 6,000 weapons, including firearms, rockets, anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, explosive devices and… pic.twitter.com/ZoyJVLMSX1
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 10, 2023
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said that over 11,000 people had been killed since the war began on October 7 with deadly Hamas attacks on southern Israel. The figures could not be independently verified and are believed to include civilians killed accidentally by Palestinian gunmen in the Strip as well as terror operatives killed by the IDF.
The head of the World Health Organization warned Friday that the health system in Gaza was “on its knees,” noting that half of the territory’s 36 hospitals are no longer functioning.
Speaking to the Security Council, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the situation on the ground: “Hospital corridors crammed with the injured, the sick, the dying; morgues overflowing; surgery without anesthesia; tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering at hospitals.”
“The health system is on its knees, and yet somehow is continuing to deliver lifesaving care,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday the IDF will remain in control of the Gaza Strip after the war ends, and will not rely on international forces to oversee security along the border.
Netanyahu made the comments in a meeting with the mayors of Gaza border towns at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu and his government have been vague on what they envision for Gaza after the war. Only hours earlier the premier told Fox News that Israel does not want to re-occupy or govern the Strip.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu told ABC News that Israel will have “overall security responsibility” over the Gaza Strip “for an indefinite period” after the war against Hamas ends.
On Thursday, the IDF said that the 162nd Division was operating in Hamas’s “military quarter” of Gaza City, clashing frequently with terror operatives.
According to Israel, the so-called military quarter, adjacent to Shifa Hospital, is “the heart” of Hamas’s intelligence and operational activities, and sites in the area were used to plan and prepare the October 7 onslaught in southern Israel that killed some 1,200 people and saw the abduction of some 240.
The military has continued to urge civilian populations to evacuate to the southern part of the enclave via humanitarian corridors, and accused Hamas of compelling noncombatants to remain in the area, including near hospitals.
Recent days have seen tens of thousands depart southward every day during the declared safe hours.
On Friday, dozens of Gazan civilians raising white flags attempted to leave the compound of the Al-Nasr Hospital in Gaza City following an evacuation order by the IDF, but video footage showed they were forced to turn back after they came under gunfire.
BREAKING: Civilians try to leave Al-Nasr Hospital, Hamas shoots them in cold blood, they are his human shield and he does not let them leave pic.twitter.com/VaBb0Ln7pV
— Association of Hospitals in Gaza (@GazaHospitals) November 10, 2023
While it was not clear from the video footage who was shooting, Israeli sources accused Hamas gunmen of opening fire on the crowd to prevent them from leaving the compound. Palestinian sources, on the other hand, claimed that the IDF was behind the shooting.
The death toll of soldiers killed fighting inside the Gaza Strip rose to 37 on Friday, after the IDF announced that a soldier who was critically wounded during fighting in the Strip on November 8 had succumbed to his injuries.
The statement identified the soldier as Staff Sgt. Yehonatan Yitzhak Semo, 21, of the Paratrooper’s 202nd Battalion, from Karmei Zur.
Earlier on Friday morning, the IDF confirmed the death of Staff Sgt. Gilad Rozenblit, 21, a combat medic of the 401st Armored Brigade’s 52nd Battalion who fell during fighting in the northern Gaza Strip, from the northern Israeli community of Ginegar.
On Thursday, Israel confirmed that it would be formalizing and broadening localized pauses in fighting to build on the humanitarian corridors through which people can escape the densest and most intense areas of fighting in northern Gaza.
The new four-hour pauses will take place in a different northern Gaza neighborhood each day, with residents notified three hours ahead of time. They will be able to use this time to either evacuate to the south via the two humanitarian corridors that Israel has established or leave their homes in order to restock on food, medicine and other aid, the senior Israeli official said.