Supported by the Air Force, which uses an intensity unprecedented in recent years, Israeli soldiers advance through Hamas’ labyrinth of tunnels and explosives to gain control of Gaza City. After a slow incursion into semi-destroyed areas of the north of the Strip and into the urban perimeter of the capital already divided in two, the Israeli army took positions on the coast and is preparing to launch itself into the great fiefdom of the fundamentalist group. At the same time, two elements can influence each other and both in the course of the war: the negotiations on the 241 kidnapped in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the option of a humanitarian truce.
With the surprise factor that its great ace (the tunnels) gives it, the armed wing of Hamas tries to delay the assault on Gaza and cause the greatest number of casualties in the ranks of a much superior enemy thanks to its technology, arsenal, intelligence and Air Force, but is cautious about the militia’s underground network. Since the start of the raid last Friday, 30 soldiers have died from the impact of missiles and projectiles from the Ezedin al Qassam Brigades. Israel, which indicates that it has killed “thousands of terrorists” in the war unleashed with the Hamas attack on October 7, uses maximum fire and minimum risk to avoid casualties against forces that appear and disappear before tanks and armored cars. If there is information of an empty house that is mined or connected to the tunnel network, the order is to destroy it. The army believes that 80% of the houses and buildings in Beit Janun, north of Gaza, “had some terrorism-related infrastructure, either tunnels or mines” in recent weeks while waiting for the invasion.
The information extracted in the interrogations after the attacks in the kibutzim on tunnels and explosives slightly modified Israel’s operational plans. For now, soldiers refrain from entering underground passages found that are closed or bombed. “Hamas built a complex tunnel system, but we are managing to hit it,” says one officer, before the elite Golani Brigade unit reached the Gaza coast.
The former major general, Giora Eiland, lowers the army’s optimism by considering that Hamas shows no signs of dismantling. And he warns: “Gaza City is the largest fortified objective in the world. The more the combat zone is destroyed, the more possibilities Hamas has to defend it and also has the factor of tunnels.”
Israel suspects that 200 participants in the Black Saturday They hid in the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, where, he charges, the Hamas command center is located. The Israeli army has intensified both its requests to Gazans to evacuate the city and especially its hospitals, where thousands of displaced people gather in search of refuge, and its accusations that the health centers are used by militiamen to hide and launch projectiles, spreading images of tunnels in the Qatari Hospital and the Indonesian Hospital. All of this can be interpreted as a warning for an irruption in the coming days.