Israel’s military successfully attacked a major Hamas stronghold during their second ground offensive in Gaza — used by Hamas operatives, planners and masterminds — and have vowed to “reveal evidence” that the terrorist group is exploiting civilian locations to carry out attacks, an official said.
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), said during a press briefing Friday morning that Israel continued its offensive activity “from the land, air and sea last night with an emphasis on the Shejaiya neighborhood, which is one of the major terrorist strongholds of Hamas.” The IDF killed Hamas operatives and destroyed rocket launch sites, he said.
“In the coming hours we will reveal evidence that shows Hamas’s use of humanitarian facilities for terrorist infrastructures in a way that endangers the citizens of Gaza” he added. “I repeat, we will expose these materials that connect Hamas to the cynical use it makes of humanitarian facilities.”
Hagari also updated the number of deceased IDF soldiers to 310 and the number of hostages to 229. “We continue to put in the most effort – the civilian effort, the operational effort, the intelligence effort to do one thing – bringing the hostages home is the highest priority,” he said.
Hagari added, “Hamas prefers, at any point in time, to endanger the residents of the Gaza Strip in order to protect terrorists. At every point, he prefers to get food, electricity and medical equipment to Hamas terrorists than to the citizens of Gaza who are not involved in the war. We will expose these evidence and bring them to the attention of the world and the public.”
The IDF said separately that an IDF aerial strike in Gaza on Friday killed a senior Hamas commander.
“Madhath Mubashar—Commander of Hamas’ Western Khan Yunis Battalion—was eliminated,” IDF said. “Furthermore, the IDF struck 250+ Hamas targets including a terrorist tunnel network in Gaza that detonated the secondary explosions.”
All IDF troops exited the strip without any casualties, he said.
“During the last day, infantry, armor, and engineering forces, accompanied by aircrafts, carried out a targeted raid in the center of the Gaza Strip as part of preparations of the area for the next stages of combat. The raid began yesterday in broad daylight, it included all the forces I described as a combat team and ended successfully in the morning hours.”
The small ground operations come ahead of an expect full-scale ground invasion as Israel has waged war against Hamas, promising to eliminate its presence in the Gaza Strip.
“The operations in the Gaza Strip allow us to expose the enemy, kill terrorists, remove explosives from the area, remove launching positions that are set up to launch at our forces and at the direction of the Gaza envelope communities,” he said. “And in this sense to deepen the achievement against the enemy from additional threats and prepare the area for the next stages of the war.”
The IDF spokesman also said Israel’s northern border with Lebanon was quiet. Hezbollah, a Lebanese terror group, has previous fired missiles over the border onto Israeli communities.
“We will continue to be strongly deployed along the entire length of the border and in the towns and communities with high readiness and high vigilance during the entire weekend of course,” Hagari said.
He also mentioned an “aerial threat” that was detected over Egypt and the Red Sea.
“Fighter jets were launched towards the threat, and this matter is currently under investigation. In our understanding, the damage caused in Egypt originates from this threat. Israel will work together with Egypt and the US and tighten the defense in the region against threats in the Red Sea area,” Hagari said.
Israel first declared war on Hamas after the terror group launched a surprise attack on Oct. 7.
Fox News’ Yael Rotem-Kuriel contributed to this report.