Army says it is still battling terrorists hiding in south, hostage rescued

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Since Saturday, infantry, combat engineering, and Armored Corps troops have worked to clear the Gaza border communities of Kibbutz Be’eri and Re’im of Palestinian terrorists.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces says that the 99th Division has swept every house in the two communities, clashing sporadically with Hamas gunmen.

The military says that in one incident during the last few days, Palestinian terrorists wearing Israeli army uniforms opened fire at troops in Be’eri. An IDF tank fired a shell at the terrorists, killing them.

The rest of the homes in Be’eri were later cleared of any possible terrorists, the IDF adds.

In Re’im in recent days, the IDF says Kfir soldiers encountered a Palestinian terrorist holed up inside a bomb shelter.

Amid an exchange of fire with the terrorist, troops managed to rescue a young civilian, the IDF says, adding that the gunman was eventually killed.

In a call with reporters, the commander of the 99th Division, Brig. Gen. Barak Hiram, says the battles in the two towns were “very difficult.”

“There were very difficult battles, most of them as terrorists fortified themselves against forces that tried to break in. We sustained several wounded and dead,” Hiram says.

He says that in Be’eri, forces killed 108 Palestinian terrorists. The bodies of over 100 Israelis were also found there.

Hiram says that troops “found people handcuffed and shot, babies shot.”

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