JERUSALEM, Israel – This weekend marked three months since the Gaza war began. The Israel Defense Forces announced it has proof that Iran was mentoring Hamas, and spokesmen explained why the fighting is so complicated.
In a major milestone for Israel in its war on terrorism, the IDF says it has now dismantled Hamas’ military capabilities in northern Gaza, and now they can focus on other parts of the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists Israel must continue its battle in Gaza until it achieves total victory.
“We must not stop the war until we complete all its objectives: the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our hostages, and the promise that Gaza won’t pose a threat to Israel anymore,” he said.
The prime minister’s comments came ahead of yet another visit from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is expected to press for a shift to lower-intensity fighting.
Over the weekend, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari explained some of the challenges of the war in a briefing to the nation. He reinforced that one of the main goals is to dismantle Hamas fully.
“Hamas battalions use a complex underground system with infrastructure to manufacture weapons, war rooms, command and control centers, and the capability to launch rockets from above and below ground,” he stated. “The terrorists move between different areas in the Gaza Strip using this infrastructure, allowing them to do so covertly.”
Hagari announced Israel’s five military objectives: eliminating Hamas commanders; ground combat against the terrorists; gathering intelligence from computers, maps, and communication devices; locating and destroying rockets, weapons, and sites where they are manufactured; and destroying the underground infrastructure.
Using a map for display purposes, Hagari showed the Gaza Strip, describing it as covering 365 square kilometers in an area with more than 2 million people.
Pointing to the northern Gaza Strip, he said it was “where we began our ground operation and have been fighting for the last three months. In the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas had two military brigades with 12 battalions in total, consisting of about 14,000 terrorists total.”
Hagari said Israel has accomplished its goals in northern Gaza and is now turning its attention to southern Gaza.
“We have completed the dismantling of Hamas’ military framework in the northern Gaza Strip and will continue to deepen the achievement, strengthening the barrier and the defense components along the security fence,” he said.
Israeli troops located a 320-foot-long strategic tunnel shaft leading to a weapons production site. The IDF says their forces found proof that under Iranian guidance, Hamas terrorists learned “how to operate and build precise components and strategic weapons, and gained technological knowledge in the field.”
The military shared images of what they said was a rocket engine and a Hamas-developed warhead of a cruise missile.
Our troops uncovered the largest weapons production site since the beginning of the war. Where did Hamas position it? In Bureij, a densely populated civilian area in central Gaza.
Here are some other things we located in the area:
– Components for long-range rockets capable of… pic.twitter.com/v5BWvsjh48
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) January 8, 2024
Hamas also wants its ideology passed along to the next generation.
In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Israeli President Isaac Herzog revealed the discovery of a document detailing Hamas’ plan to host and train children in summer camps to hate Jews, promote religious extremism and violence, and make them the terrorists of the next generation.
“It’s a brochure, which is a directive by the commanders of Hamas as to how to manage summer camps for children in order to disseminate the values of jihad. It says it clearly to disseminate the values of jihad, and the values of the resistance – meaning terror – and how to make it a militarized society,” said Herzog.
In the north, Hezbollah marked the conflict’s 3-month anniversary by unleashing a huge barrage of rockets toward the Galilee. The IDF later said its Northern Air Control unit had been hit, but the damage would be repaired.
Israel retaliated by striking what it called “significant Hezbollah military assets” in a compound used by Hezbollah’s surface-to-air missile unit, as the fighting near the Lebanon border heats up.
An Israeli airstrike killed an elite Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon on Monday. Hezbollah identified the slain fighter as Wissam al-Tawil without providing details.