On war’s 200th day, Israel intensifies Gaza operations; soldier killed in action

IDF Arabic spokesman warns civilians to evacuate from fighting zones in Strip’s north as army launches missions in Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun

A smoke plume billows following Israeli strike north of Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (AFP)
A smoke plume billows following Israeli strike north of Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces intensified its operations against Hamas terrorists in the central and northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, as the war reached its 200th day.

Israeli strikes intensified in what residents said was some of the heaviest shelling in weeks, particularly hitting the north from where the Israeli army had previously drawn down its troops.

Strikes by air and shelling from tanks on the ground were also reported in central and southern areas, in what residents said were almost non-stop bombardments.

The IDF said Tuesday that it had targeted Hamas rocket-launching positions in the southern Gaza Strip overnight. The military said the strike was carried out following new intelligence information that was received over the past few days, allowing the rocket launchers to be destroyed before they were used.

Separately, an airstrike was carried out against several terror operatives hiding near a civilian shelter in central Gaza’s Bureij, the military said.

Dozens more airstrikes were carried out across Gaza over the past day, targeting buildings used by terror groups, observation posts, rocket launch sites, and other infrastructure and operatives, according to the army.

Meanwhile, in a post on social media platform X, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, urged residents of four zones in northern Gaza’s Beit Lahiya to move to shelter in two designated areas near the town.

“You are in a dangerous combat zone,” Adraee warned, adding that the IDF would operate against “terror infrastructure” and operatives in the area.

The operation in Beit Lahiya comes following recent rocket attacks from the area on Israeli border communities. Palestinians said an air strike hit a mosque, killing a boy and injuring several others, while a medic was killed in shelling near the town stadium.

The IDF also said it launched a new pinpoint operation in northern Gaza’s Beit Hanoun just before Passover began Monday.

The raid was carried out by forces operating under the Gaza Division’s Northern Brigade.

Amid the operation, Sgt. First Class (res.) Salm Alkreshat, a tracker in the Gaza Division’s Northern Brigade, was killed.

Sgt. First Class (res.) Salm Alkreshat, killed in the Gaza Strip on April 22, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Alkreshat, 43, was from the Bedouin community of Abu Rabia. His death brings the toll of slain troops in the IDF’s ground offensive against Hamas to 261.

On Tuesday morning, four rockets were fired from northern Gaza at the southern city of Sderot, with the IDF reporting that all the projectiles were downed by the Iron Dome air defense system.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on Sderot.

Several hours later, two more rockets were fired at the border community of Zikim. One of the rockets was intercepted, while the second failed to cross the border, the military said.

No injuries or damage were caused in the attacks.

IDF soldiers operate in Gaza as the military says it remains on high alert ahead of the Passover holiday, April 22, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The renewed shelling and bombing of northern Gaza comes almost four months after the Israeli army announced it was drawing down its troops there, saying it had dismantled Hamas’s “military framework” in the area.

Also on Tuesday, the Israeli army said troops in the Nahal Brigade launched a new pinpoint operation against Hamas in the central Gaza Strip corridor, which the military said was continuing during the Passover holiday.

The IDF said the “surprise operation” that began Sunday night was aimed at “deepening the achievements” in the Netzarim corridor.

Smoke plumes billow following an Israeli strike north of Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (AFP)

The corridor, built around a road south of Gaza City, enables the IDF to carry out raids in northern and central Gaza while allowing Israel to control access to the north for Palestinians seeking to return after fleeing south.

“The forces are carrying out targeted raids and are thwarting terror in the area,” the IDF said in a statement.

Nahal troops spotted several gunmen amid the raid, and called in airstrikes by fighter jets against them and the buildings they were spotted operating at, according to the IDF. It added that secondary explosions seen after the strikes indicated that the buildings were used to store munitions.

The fighting in the center and northern parts of the Strip continued amid Israel’s planned offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. A recent report by The Wall Street Journal said the IDF had begun readying to evacuate Palestinian civilians from Rafah, where more than a million are sheltering.

Israel has said Rafah, where four of Hamas’s six intact battalions are deployed, remains one of the terror group’s last major strongholds in the Strip after the IDF operated across the north and in parts of the center and south of the enclave. It also believes that many of the remaining 129 hostages kidnapped on October 7 are being held in Rafah.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, Hudhaifa Kahlout — known by the nom de guerre Abu Obeida — called for an escalation across all fronts in a televised statement marking the 200 days of the war.

The war erupted when 3,000 terrorists poured across the border with Israel on October 7 in an unprecedented Hamas-led attack that resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 253.

The ensuing Israeli offensive has killed over 33,000 people, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. This figure cannot be independently verified and includes over 13,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed since the beginning of the war.

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