The military says troops have reached the center of Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, days after Israel expanded its ground offensive beyond northern Gaza.
Israeli officials have much of the Hamas leadership may be hiding out in Khan Younis, a Hamas stronghold.
Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, head of the Southern Command, says that troops are involved in the heaviest fighting seen since the start of the ground invasion over a month ago.
“We are in the heart of Jabaliya, in the heart of Shejaiya and from this evening, also in the heart of Khan Younis,” he says in a statement distributed by the Israel Defense Forces, referencing Hamas strongholds near Gaza City in the north of the Strip.
“This is the most intense day [of battles] since the start of the [ground] maneuver, in terms of terrorists killed, the number of engagements and the use of fire from the ground and the air,” he adds. “We plan to continue attacking to deepen achievements.”
The army says that troops have managed to raid a number of Hamas posts in Jabaliya and Shejaiya, taking out arms caches and “terror infrastructure both above ground and below.”
“In the past day, infantry, armor, engineering and air forces have cooperated to fight terrorists face to face, and many terrorists were assassinated,” the army statement says,
Some weapons were found in civilian structures, the army notes.