IDF completes three-week op in north Gaza’s Jabaliya, described as war’s most intense fighting

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

IDF troops operate in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, in a handout photo published May 31, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in northern Gaza's Jabaliya, in a handout photo published May 31, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says its 98th Division has wrapped up a nearly three-week-long operation in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, during which troops killed hundreds of terror operatives, recovered the bodies of seven slain Israeli hostages, and demolished major tunnels.

IDF officers have described the fighting in Jabaliya as some of the most intense amid the war. Jabaliya’s historic refugee camp is one of Gaza’s most dense areas, and troops came under massive RPG fire by Hamas operatives.

The IDF says Hamas turned Jabaliya’s civilian infrastructure into “a fortified combat complex,” opened fire at troops from schools and other sites where civilians were sheltering, and built tunnel networks under civilian buildings.

Some 120 anti-tank projectiles were launched at the troops, along with dozens more incidents of planted explosive devices, sniper fire, and drones that dropped bombs, according to the military.

Overground, the division’s 7th, 460th, and Paratroopers brigades killed hundreds of gunmen in “intense battles” and destroyed dozens of sites belonging to terror groups, the IDF says.

The IDF estimates that it killed around 500-600 terror operatives during the operation in Jabaliya. Only 350 have been verified so far, following battles and airstrikes.

IDF troops operate at a tunnel in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya where the bodies of seven Israeli hostages were recovered, in a handout photo published May 31, 2024.

More than 200 airstrikes were carried out adjacent to the ground forces amid the operation, killing gunmen, including Hamas field commanders, the IDF says.

Hundreds of weapons, as well as several weapon-manufacturing sites and several rocket launchers, were located and destroyed by troops in the operation, the IDF says.

Underground, some 12 kilometers (7 miles) worth of Hamas tunnels were demolished by combat engineers, after troops raided the underground networks, the IDF says.

In one tunnel network, troops recovered the bodies of Ron Benjamin, Itzhak Gelerenter, Amit Buskila, Orión Hernández Radoux, Hanan Yablonka, and Michel Nisenbaum. All seven were murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7 and their bodies were kidnapped to Gaza, according to the IDF.

In another tunnel in Jabaliya, the commander of Hamas’s Beit Hanoun Battalion, Hussien Fiad, along with several more operatives, were killed by special forces.

Two Hamas attack tunnels were also demolished amid the operation. The tunnels had reached around 500 meters from the Israeli border, according to IDF assessments.

Ten Israeli soldiers were killed amid the Jabaliya operation, the last being Sgt. First Class (res.) Adar Gavriel, 24, who was killed yesterday.

According to an initial IDF probe, Gavriel was hit by a grenade hurled by a terror operative from a building as troops were scanning the area. The soldiers killed the operative a short while later.

The 98th Division will now be given time for R&R, training, and going over plans for future operations in Gaza.

Most Popular