IDF, Shin Bet say several senior Hamas terrorists killed as Shifa op continues

Army chief Halevi visits troops, praises ‘very, very successful’ campaign at hospital, as fighting continues throughout Gaza

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo released on March 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo released on March 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF and Shin Bet security agency on Saturday announced that four senior Hamas terrorists were killed by troops at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital in recent days.

Troops have been raiding buildings at the hospital complex, following intelligence indicating that top officials in the terror group are holed up there. They’ve arrested hundreds of terror operatives and killed over 200 in days-long exchanges of fire at the complex.

In one incident, the IDF said troops of the Navy’s Shayetet 13 unit, Givati Brigade’s Shaked Battalion and Duvdevan unit encountered and killed a group of armed Hamas operatives who ran out of Shifa’s emergency room.

Among them was senior Hamas commander Raad Thabet — named by the IDF on Thursday as the head of the terror group’s recruitment and supply acquisition — and Mahmoud Khalil Zakzuk, who the IDF says is the deputy commander of Hamas’s rocket unit in Gaza City.

In another incident, troops of the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit killed senior Hamas operatives Fadi Dweik and Zakaria Najib during a chase at Shifa’s maternity ward, according to the IDF.

The IDF and Shin Bet say Dweik was a senior member of Hamas’s intelligence division. He perpetrated the 2002 terrorist shooting attack in the West Bank settlement of Adora, killing four civilians, and was exiled to the Gaza Strip in the 2011 Shalit deal with Hamas, in which Israel released 1,027 Palestinian terror convicts in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

L-R: These handout images show Hamas commanders Mahmoud Khalil Zakzuk, Zakaria Najib, and Fadi Dweik, who the IDF says were killed by troops at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, March 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

In Gaza, he continued to advance attacks in the West Bank, defense officials say. Najib, according to the IDF and Shin Bet, was a senior operative in Hamas’s so-called West Bank headquarters, tasked with promoting attacks against Israel from the West Bank.

He is accused of involvement in the 1994 abduction and killing of Nachshon Wachsman, and was also released in the 2011 Shalit deal.

Other Hamas gunmen have been killed by troops in and around the hospital, the IDF said, adding that troops have seized weapons and intelligence documents.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi hailed the ongoing operation at Shifa Hospital during a visit to the medical center on Friday.

“Almost two weeks, very, very successful, and this is an operation… to plan it in a war, to carry it out in a war, to execute it correctly in a war, [is] very, very complex,” Halevi told troops.

“So far [there have been] very great achievements… no one can roll back [the effects of] such a large number of arrested terrorists, such a large number of dead terrorists, so many senior people,” he said.

Halevi said the operation has “achieved its goal,” but added that it will continue “thoroughly until it is announced that we are done.”

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo released on March 30, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza said Saturday that at least 32,705 people had been killed in the territory during more than five months of war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group.

The toll includes at least 82 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 75,190 people had been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war was triggered by the devastating Hamas-led onslaught against Israel on October 7.

The Hamas-run ministry’s figures, which are unverified, do not differentiate between fighters and civilians, and are also believed to include Palestinians killed by terrorists’ misfired rockets. Israel says some 13,000 terror operatives are among the dead.

Earlier Saturday the Palestine Red Crescent said five people were killed and dozens wounded by gunfire and a stampede during an aid delivery in Gaza.

Palestinian children fetch water in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 30, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

AFP said it had footage of a convoy of trucks moving quickly past burning debris near the distribution point in pre-dawn darkness as people shout and gunfire echoes — some of which were warning shots, according to unnamed witnesses quoted by the French news agency.

The Red Crescent said it happened after thousands of people gathered for the arrival of around 15 trucks of flour and other food, which were supposed to be handed out at Gaza City’s Kuwait roundabout, in the territory’s north.

The roundabout has been the scene of several chaotic and deadly aid distribution incidents, including a deadly incident on March 23 that drew intense international scrutiny.

Eyewitnesses told AFP that Gazans overseeing the aid delivery shot in the air, and that Israeli troops in the area also fired and some moving trucks hit people trying to get the food.

The Israeli military told AFP it “has no record of the incident described.”

In the al-Amal neighborhood of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, the IDF said troops of the Givati Brigade killed several gunmen, including some who tried to attack them with explosive devices.

The Israeli Air Force carried out dozens of strikes across Gaza over the past day, mostly in al-Amal and al-Qarara, which the IDF said was to support the maneuvering ground troops.

The IAF also struck three tunnel shafts in an area from which a rocket was fired toward the border community of Kissufim on Friday, the IDF said.

Meanwhile, in central Gaza, the IDF said troops of the Nahal Brigade killed several terror operatives over the past day.

In one incident, the army said Nahal troops spotted a cell moving weaponry and called in a drone strike against them. Large secondary blasts were seen after the strike, according to the IDF. A fighter jet later struck the building the cell was seen leaving.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaks to troops in the area of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, March 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Two more Hamas cells were struck by drones in northern Gaza after being identified by the 215th Artillery Regiment. Fighter jets later also struck a building used by those operatives, the IDF adds.

On Friday the army announced the death of a soldier during fighting in the Khan Younis area. He was named as Sgt. First Class Alon Kudriashov, 21, of the Commando Brigade’s Egoz unit, from Modiin.

Sgt. First Class Alon Kudriashov. (Israel Defense Forces)

His death brought the number of troops killed in Israel’s ground offensive against Hamas to 254.

Kudriashov was killed and 16 other troops of the Egoz unit were wounded, including six seriously, after a Hamas operative fired an RPG at a building used as an encampment near Nasser Hospital, according to an IDF probe.

Hamas published footage of the Friday morning incident, showing it launching an RPG at the building where the Egoz troops were operating.

All of the wounded troops were taken to hospitals.

War broke out on October 7 when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, killing nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 253. Israel has vowed to both wipe out Hamas and secure the hostages’ release. The army says there are 130 people kidnapped from Israel in Hamas captivity, including nearly three dozen people who were killed on October 7 or while held hostage whose remains Gazan terrorists continue to hold.

Talks for a temporary truce and the release of hostages appeared to advance earlier in the week, but stalled again after Hamas rejected a compromise, saying it would only agree to a permanent end to the war and complete withdrawal of troops from Gaza. Efforts to renew the talks were undertaken on Friday.

The ongoing war has also created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as famine is both a risk and “quite possibly” present in at least some areas in northern Gaza, a senior US State Department official told Reuters on Friday.

The official added that the scarcity of trucks was a key obstacle to more humanitarian aid in the densely populated enclave that has been battered by the Israel-Hamas war.

Israel has contested a UN-backed report that found famine was likely in the Strip, saying that “the report contains multiple factual and methodological flaws, some of them serious.”

Additionally, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the country will continue looking for new ways to facilitate the entry of increased aid into Gaza after the International Court of Justice ordered it to increase the provision of basic humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip.

“Israel will continue to promote new initiatives, and to expand existing ones, in order to enable and facilitate the flow of aid to the Gaza Strip in a continuous and extensive manner, by land, air and sea, together with UN bodies and other partners in the international community,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Hayat said in a statement posted on X.

“This includes ongoing efforts to increase the scale, and means of access for such aid despite the operational challenges on the ground and Hamas׳s active and abhorrent efforts to commandeer, hoard, and steal aid.”

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