Israeli troops and tanks fought their way deeper into the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, according to Israeli and Gazan officials, who described battles with Hamas fighters and troop movements drawing closer to the territory’s main city and the warren of tunnels beneath it.
The Israeli military said it had attacked a base of Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, and “eliminated dozens of terrorists, anti-tank launching squads, anti-tank launching positions” and observation posts, and had “seized many weapons, including explosives.” The claims could not be immediately verified.
The two sides gave conflicting accounts of a deadly Israeli airstrike in the Jabaliya community north of Gaza City, site of a long-established and densely populated refugee camp, where photographs taken on Tuesday showed at least one large blast crater that was not present in earlier satellite images, and significant damage to buildings.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry said that the strike had killed and wounded hundreds of people. Dr. Marwan Sultan, medical director of the nearby Indonesian Hospital, said there were dozens dead and his facility had received hundreds of injured patients. The figures could not be verified.
The Israeli military said the strike had killed a Hamas commander who was a key plotter of the Oct. 7 assault on Israel that the Israeli authorities say killed more than 1,400 people and captured more than 200 hostages.
The commander, Ibrahim Biari, was actively directing attacks against Israeli targets from a “vast underground tunnel complex,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said in a late-night briefing. He said that in Israel’s estimation, “dozens” of Hamas combatants were killed along with him when the underground complex imploded.