Iran is assisting Hamas by supplying it with intelligence, and is also boosting anti-Israel incitement worldwide, Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated on Wednesday morning, day 19 of Israel’s war against the terror organization.
Iran also helped Hamas with training, weapons, funding and technological knowledge, said Hagari.
“Around the the world, the proxies are working, from Yemen, Lebanon—instructions come from one place—Iran,” he added.
Strikes in Gaza continue
The Israeli Air Force had conducted wide-scale airstrikes in Gaza over the past few hours, the IDF said on Wednesday morning. Among the targets hit were Hamas tunnel shafts, military headquarters, weapons warehouses, mortar launchers and anti-tank missile launchers, according to the military.
The commander of Hamas’s Khan Younis Battalion, Taysir Mubasher, a former head of the Hamas naval force, was also killed, according to Hagari. Mubasher had planned strategic terror attacks against Israel and was the main Hamas commander in the Khan Younis sector, he added.
Overnight Tuesday, the IDF struck Hamas’s emergency operational apparatus, including war rooms, infrastructure and military headquarters.
“Hamas’s emergency operational apparatus was responsible for setting up blockades that prevented Gazans from evacuating to safer areas in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF stated.
“Additionally, the IDF struck military infrastructure and command centers of Hamas’ security apparatus, which is responsible for overseeing the terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip and arresting and imprisoning Hamas’s opponents,” it said.
The IDF spokesman reiterated Israel’s call for Gaza residents to flee to the south.
“Hamas uses schools and hospitals, they hide there. Gazan citizens, don’t let them exploit you. Head south. We are setting up broad humanitarian aid with Egypt and the United States, bringing in food, water. When the war ends, the population can return,” said Hagari.
On Tuesday afternoon, acting on precise Shin Bet intelligence, the IDF killed a number of senior Hamas operatives, including Abed Alrahman, deputy commander of the Nuseirat Battalion, who took part in the Kibbutz Be’eri massacre on Oct. 7; Khalil Muhajez, deputy commander of the Shati Battalion; and Khalil Tatri, deputy commander of the Sheikh Radwan Battalion.
Also on Tuesday, Israeli naval forces targeted a Hamas cell that had attempted to infiltrate Israeli territory by sea in the area of Kibbutz Zikim. Several terrorists were killed, and the IAF struck the military compound in Gaza from which the Hamas divers had launched the attack.
“We will kill anyone who tries to infiltrate Israeli territory,” said Hagari.
‘Hamas will regret this’
“The State of Israel is in the midst of a war that the Hamas terrorist organization started. Hamas will regret this. It is already beginning to regret it,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi stated on Tuesday.
The IDF currently holds the south and is defending it strongly, he said.
“We trained for this, we have well-equipped forces, but most importantly we have the best combat soldiers for these missions,” said Halevi.
“I want to make this clear—the IDF is ready for ground operations and we will make a decision with the political echelon regarding the manner and the timing of the next stage,” he added.
Current tactical and strategic factors “are giving us more time to be better prepared,” he said, while “at the same time, the IAF is striking the enemy around the clock, killing its personnel, destroying its infrastructure and collecting more intelligence for the next stage.”
“Now it’s the enemy waiting for us, tense,” he added.
US boosts regional air defenses
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday citing U.S. defense officials, the U.S. military is scrambling to deploy at least 12 additional air defense systems across the Middle East before the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza.
The systems include a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Battery en route to Saudi Arabia from Fort Bliss, as well as 11 Patriot batteries that are heading to Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Hagari said the deployments are a reflection of the fact that Iran and its proxies are destabilizing the region.
‘Hezbollah is cooperating with Hamas’
Addressing the situation in Israel’s north, Halevi said the IDF is attacking every Hezbollah terror cell that attempts to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers. “Hezbollah is cooperating with Hamas’s murderous attack and by doing so it affiliates itself with ISIS under the guise of being Lebanon’s defender,” he said.
The IDF is ready for the escalation scenarios in both near and far arenas, he said, adding, “This war has one address: Hamas’s leadership and all who acted under its command. They will pay for what they have done.”
On Wednesday, images surfaced in international and social media of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah meeting in Beirut with Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ziad Nakhaleh. It was unclear when the meeting had occurred.
Following the meeting, the terror masters released a statement calling for “a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine” and a halt to Israel’s “treacherous and brutal aggression against our oppressed and steadfast people.”
Meanwhile, five missile and rocket squads in Lebanon had been eliminated by the IDF in the past 24 hours, said Hagari.
On Tuesday, the IDF targeted three terrorist cells in the border area.
Two cells responsible for rocket and mortar attacks on IDF posts in the area of Netu’a and Elkosh in northern Israel were hit by an Israeli drone. The third cell was hit by Israeli forces as it attempted to launch anti-tank missiles at Israeli territory adjacent to Kibbutz Yiftach.
No Israeli injuries were reported.
Also on Tuesday, an IAF helicopter struck Hezbollah military infrastructure in Lebanon.
The IDF said on Monday that it had destroyed over 20 Hezbollah anti-tank missile squads since the beginning of the war.
‘We will eliminate Hamas, literally’
During a visit to the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they should expect significant activity as the combat expands. “We will arrive in the territory and eliminate Hamas, literally. Otherwise, we will not have an existence here. It’s a condition,” he said.
“Battles of this type, at this scope, have not occurred since 1973,” he stated.
As part of the extensive efforts to free Israeli and foreign hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, the IDF on Tuesday used multiple channels to communicate with the residents of Gaza and ask for information about the hostages, offering protection and compensation in return.
“If your will is to live in peace and to have a better future for your children, do the humanitarian deed immediately and share verified and valuable information about hostages being held in your area,” the IDF message stated.
“The Israeli military assures you that it will invest maximum effort in providing security for you and your home, and you will receive a financial reward. We guarantee you complete confidentiality.”
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