IDF says it reached center of Khan Younis, has sent additional division into Gaza

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

Troops of the 98th Division operate in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, in a handout photo released December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops of the 98th Division operate in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, in a handout photo released December 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF says its 98th Division is leading the ground offensive against Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip, during which troops have surrounded the city of Khan Younis and are beginning to operate in it.

The 98th Division is made up of paratrooper forces — both from the standing army and the reserves — as well as the Commando Brigade and an elite artillery regiment. The 98th Division’s entry into Gaza means there are now four IDF divisions operating in the Strip. The others are the 162nd, 36th, and 252nd divisions, which have been operating in the enclave for several weeks now.

The IDF says the 98th Division “launched a combined attack on the area of ​​the city of Khan Younis, against the ‘centers of gravity’ of the Hamas terror organization.”

It says that within a few hours, the troops broke through the defenses of Hamas’s Khan Younis brigade, encircled the city, and began to maneuver deeper into it.

The troops that led the offensive captured Hamas strongholds, locating weapons and intelligence materials, the IDF says.

According to the IDF, the 98th Division troops have killed “many” Hamas operatives in ground combat and airstrikes so far, and have located around 30 tunnel shafts that have been destroyed.

The IDF says Commando Brigade forces along with the Givati Brigade have reached the center of Khan Younis, and have been conducting “targeted raids in the heart of the city,” killing Hamas operatives and destroying the terror group’s infrastructure.

In one of the operations, the IDF says a weapons depot inside a mosque was struck.

The IDF says the Khan Younis brigade is “one of the two most dominant Hamas brigades,” and that the city in southern Gaza is a “center of gravity” of the terror group.

“All the leadership of the Hamas terror organization — political and military — grew up in the area of ​​the city of Khan Younis, including Yahya Sinwar, Muhammad Sinwar, and Mohammed Deif. Now the city is surrounded by the 98th Division,” the IDF adds.

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