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The battle for Khan Yunis continues: Significant achievements

IDF in Gaza

Division 98 continues to operate in Khan Yunis in full force, with the attack on the refugee camp west of the city. At this stage, IDF forces have already reached the sea near old Gush Katif, and there is complete control over the passage of civilians south – in a way that allows the taking of Hamas operatives as prisoners. Over the past few days, hundreds of terrorists have been killed and taken prisoner, and many Hamas targets have been captured throughout the city (it should be noted that Khan Yunis is estimated to be the stronghold and fortress of the major Hamas leaders; in addition, it is estimated that most of the Israeli abductees were taken to tunnels under Khan Yunis).

Yesterday, two reserve brigades that Israel has used so far in Khan Yunis, including the 55th Brigade, the reserve paratropers – were released. This is a general release that was expected at this stage, in light of the decrease in friction and the transition to ‘phase three’ of the war. We must not see this transition as a indicator of laxity, but rather as a combination between the needs of the army and the reality on the ground. In the northern Gaza Strip, for example, where the Hamas battalion frameworks were dismantled, the IDF is able to operate more freely and achieve its specific goals with smaller forces. This is reflected right now, when IDF armored forces reportedly moved in the south and north of Gaza City, and reached the Al-Shifa hospital within a few hours (a operation that took 2 weeks in the begining of the war).

The two big questions about the future of the maneuver are not under the control of the army: The decision whether to finish the maneuver in the entire Gaza Strip by advancing to Rafah (a move that is expected to be challenging due to the large population in the area, and the Egyptian oposition to this action), and temporarily curbing military operations following another deal to release abductees with Hamas (talks are currently being held by senior Shin Bet and Mossad officials in Paris, in discussions with Qatar and other Hamas intermediaries, Toward a hostage deal – were Hamas seems to demand a long and significant ceasefire.) But the spirit of the army is reflected well in what Defense Minister Galant said yesterday: “This war cannot be won by points; only by knockout. We need to destroy Hamas if we want to continue living in this place. We have to go all the way.”

To respond – rxpuyhi@gmail.com

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