Hamas nears breaking point in northern Gaza as Israel surrounds strongholds, kills

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Hamas is nearing its breaking point in northern Gaza as Israeli forces surround its last two strongholds there and takes out local commanders, Israel said Monday.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed that Israel Defense Forces were “on the verge of dismantling” the remaining Palestinian terror strongholds in Jabalya and Shejaiya after mass surrenders in the area, CNN reports.

“We are near a breaking point in the northern Gaza Strip,” Gallant said. “Anyone who prefers to surrender, as hundreds have done already — we will spare their lives.”

Gallant’s comments come a day after the IDF confirmed the death of Emad Krikae, the commander of Hamas’ Shejaiya Battalion.

Krikae was the leader believed to be behind anti-tank missile training in Gaza City and allegedly took part in the rocket fire and raids carried out against Israel on Oct. 7.

The Hamas official’s reign was short-lived. He was slain by Israeli forces, as was his predecessor who was listed last week among the dozen other commanders, including the one in Jabalya, killed in Gaza since the war began.

Emad Krikae, the commander of Hamas’ Shejaiya Battalion, was confirmed dead Monday. IDF

Along with killing half of Hamas’ estimated 24 battalion leaders, the IDF said it has apprehended 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists over the past month. About 140 of the men were taken into custody just over a week ago when the temporary cease-fire agreement fell through.

The Israeli military noted that some of the operatives “were caught hiding in civilian buildings, schools and shelters.”

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The members of the terror group have since been transferred to the Israeli Security Agency and Unit 504 for further questioning, the IDF said.

The details came days after about 100 Palestinian soldiers, many of whom were in their underwear, were caught on video surrendering to the IDF in Jabalya and Shejaiya.

Israeli soldiers seized a trove of weapons at a mosque in Jabalya. via REUTERS

US Department of State spokesman Matthew Miller described the images of the nearly naked men as “deeply disturbing” during a press briefing Monday, adding that America is probing on why such photos were released in the first place.

Gallant claimed that many of the fighters who have turned themselves in to the IDF were short on food and weapons, as much of northern Gaza is struggling with lack of resources since the war broke out.

There remains much concern over the fighting in Jabalya, which holds one of the largest refugee camps in northern Gaza. There have been dozens of casualties reported at the camp in recent days, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

Smoke from airstrikes can be seen from a refugee camp filled with Palestinians who fled Khan Younis. AFP via Getty Images
Israeli soldiers continue the ground incursion across Gaza, which has led to the apprehension of more than 500 terrorists. via REUTERS

As the war continues in north and south Gaza, Israel is also contending with conflict along its northern border with Lebanon, where it traded missile fire with Hezbollah terrorists Monday.

“In response to launches from Lebanon toward communities in the western Galilee earlier today, IDF fighter jets struck a Hezbollah military site,” the Israeli military said in a statement. 

Hezbollah confirmed the attack and that it suffered “a direct hit” from Israel but noted that the terror group will continue to fight in support of Gaza.

The group then fired several anti-tank missiles at homes along Metula in northern Israel. The bombing, Hezbollah claimed, was in retaliation to a Lebanese mayor killed in an earlier IDF airstrike.

The IDF has said it has encircled Hamas’ remaining forces in northern Gaza. via REUTERS

Miller noted that the US is also seeking answers about the fighting in Lebanon after claims that Israel had used white phosphorus missiles in one of the strikes.

Although not banned by international law, the incendiary missiles are tightly regulated, with Israel facing harsh criticism after firing such rockets in the densely populated Gaza Strip in 2008.

“Anytime that we provide items like white phosphorus or really anything to another military, we do it with the expectation that it will be used for legitimate purposes and in fully keeping with humanitarian law and law of armed conflict,” Miller said. 

Israeli troops engage with Hamas gunmen in Jabalya after the end of the truce agreement. via REUTERS

As Israel battles the Iran-backed terror groups, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Jewish state claimed that the Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war were actually part of a much larger global conflict of good vs. evil.

“Israel and Ukraine are now at the forefront of the free world war against the axis of evil led by Russia and Iran,” Ukraine Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk said in a statement after a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Korniychuk urged Netanyahu not to ally himself with Russia, calling Putin a hypocrite for showing concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza after the Kremlin’s invasion in Ukraine.

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