IAF hits Gaza on ‘unprecedented scale’; Strip’s power plant shuts down
Israel at warDay 5

IAF hits Gaza on ‘unprecedented scale’; Strip’s power plant shuts down

Military officials vow to strike terror leaders and fighters with ‘great power,’ note civilians not targeted but strikes no longer ‘surgical’

IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announces that Israel is at war, after a deadly mass Hamas infiltration from Gaza, October 7, 2023. (IDF Spokesman)
IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announces that Israel is at war, after a deadly mass Hamas infiltration from Gaza, October 7, 2023. (IDF Spokesman)

The Israel Air Force was striking in the Gaza Strip on an “unprecedented scale” Wednesday according to senior Air Force officer Brig. Gen. Omer Tishler, as Israel focused its efforts on targeting Hamas officials.

Tishler, the Israel Air Force’s chief of staff, said: “There is an enemy here firing rockets, raiding a civilian population. We will never allow that again.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Gaza’s only power plant ran out of fuel, forcing it to shut down after Israel cut off supplies. That leaves only generators to power the territory — but they also run on fuel that is in short supply.

Israel has stopped entry of food, water, fuel and medicine into Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians. The sole remaining access from Egypt was shut down Tuesday after airstrikes hit near the border crossing.

Israel is five days into a war with Hamas following the Palestinian terror group’s shock assault on Israeli communities in an early morning raid on Saturday. Over 1,200 people — most of them civilians — were killed, according to the latest toll, more than 3,000 injured, and an estimated 100-150 were captured and taken to the Gaza Strip. Their fate is not yet known.

Hamas launched volleys of rockets as its onslaught began Saturday and has continued to fire rockets into Israeli cities over the past five days, including at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and southern communities near the Palestinian enclave ruled by the terror group.

As the slow, tortuous process of identifying bodies continues, funeral after funeral are being held across Israel for soldiers and civilians alike as the country reels from the mass infiltration and massacres of men, women, children, elderly people and hundreds of young party-goers at a music festival.

Earlier Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi told reservist officers at the Southern Command base in Beersheba that the military was focusing efforts on targeting Hamas officials.

“In any area that we know there are Hamas members, Hamas leaders, even if there are restrictions, we strike… accurately and with great power,” Halevi said.

Tishler noted that the IAF was not targeting civilians in the Gaza Strip, but that the strikes were no longer “surgical.”

“We do not act like the other side, we do not attack the civilian population. Behind every attack there is a target,” he said. “We act precisely and professionally but not surgically. I’m not talking about single, tens, or hundreds [of strikes]. We are talking about thousands of munitions.”

Tishler said patience was required if Israel wants to destroy Hamas’s assets. “This machine will work, attack and destroy. This is how you operate if you want to root out the centers of terror.”

The IDF has carried out strikes against at least 2,687 targets across the Gaza Strip since Saturday, according to military data from Wednesday morning.

According to the data, 1,329 of the targets were multi-story buildings containing Hamas assets, including war rooms where the terror group manages the fighting against Israel.

The IDF said that on Monday, for the first time since 2006, it used an M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System to target a Hamas site in the Gaza Strip.

It published footage showing the 334th Artillery Battalion of the 282nd Regiment launching a long-range Romah missile at a Hamas military site in Gaza.

The military also said Wednesday that its Combat Engineering Corps troops have been working to seal up the many breaches in the Gaza border fence caused by Hamas’s murderous infiltration.

In a statement, the IDF said four combat engineering companies, using more than 30 armored heavy engineering vehicles, were fixing and sealing up the border barrier, supported by tanks and aircraft.

Troops have been clashing with Palestinian terrorists attempting to reach the border area and have killed at least 18 Palestinian terrorists in Israeli territory over the past day, as sweeps continue to root out the last Hamas infiltrators.

Israel has said its forces have killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists who infiltrated into its territory since Saturday.

On Wednesday, the military said its Combat Engineering forces are also working to disarm and safely remove explosive devices planted by Hamas terrorists in the area.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari also said on Wednesday that terrorists have been unable to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip over the past two days and that troops were working to clear hundreds of terrorists’ bodies from the area.

“They haven’t crossed the fence in the last two days. The terrorists are killed on the fence, there are still hundreds of bodies of terrorists in this area that we have not yet removed,” he said at a press conference.

Hagari said Hamas, in its initial attack on Saturday, “intended to occupy the area, not raid and return to Gaza.”

“During our counterattack, we drove them back to the Strip, except for a few who remained in the area and we are still chasing them,” Hagari said.

“These are the same terrorists who did not flee back to Gaza. They are in hiding places, near the border. That’s why the scans are [taking place] with a large number of troops. There are tens of thousands of [IDF] fighters in the area surrounding Gaza,” he said.

On Israeli hostages held by the terror group, Hagari said the military has notified the families of 60 captives so far.

On Tuesday night, troops killed three Palestinian terrorists near the southern coastal city of Ashkelon. The military said troops of the 17th Battalion, along with a drone and a combat helicopter providing air support, clashed with the three gunmen close to the Ashkelon industrial zone, just outside the city.

The military said a fire broke out in the area during the incident.

The incidents continued on Wednesday, with the IDF saying forces had killed a Hamas diver trying to infiltrate via the sea in the early morning hours. The military added that the Khan Younis and Gaza City docks, used by Hamas “to carry out terror attacks on the Israeli coastline,” were hit by artillery fire from missile boats, combat helicopters and ground artillery.

Terrorists in Gaza were also continuing to launch rockets at Israeli cities and towns, with projectiles directly hitting at least four buildings in the southern city of Sderot on Wednesday morning. The Magen David Adom ambulance service said its medics treated a man in his 40s who was moderately hurt by rocket shrapnel.

Terror groups have fired more than 5,000 rockets at Israel since Saturday, the IDF said.

The military said Air Force jets had hit over 70 Hamas targets in the Gaza City district of at-Tuffah as well as a military structure operated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The military said the area served as a “terrorist nest” for Hamas and a center from which it carried out operations against Israel.

The military added that it had hit more than 80 sites in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday morning. Dozens of fighter jets carried out the strikes against the targets, which include two bank branches used by Hamas, an underground tunnel, several war rooms and other military installations, the IDF said.

The overnight airstrikes also hit the home of relatives of Mohammad Deif, the head of Hamas’s military wing, in the Qizan an-Najjar neighborhood in Khan Younis, according to Palestinian reports cited by Hebrew media.

The jets were said to have struck the home of Deif’s father, killing the terrorist’s brother and nephew and the brother’s granddaughter.

Earlier, the IDF said it struck the home of Hamas’s military wing spokesman, who is known as Abu Obeida, in the Gaza Strip. The IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, said in a post on X that the spokesman was “working to direct terrorism against the State of Israel.”

Israeli forces have also been battling on the northern front.

The Lebanese Hezbollah terror group launched anti-tank guided missiles at an Israeli army post on the northern border on Wednesday, to which Israel responded with a drone strike on a Hezbollah post.

There have been several deadly clashes on the northern border in recent days, some of them claimed by Palestinian terror groups operating out of Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon, and others by Hezbollah itself.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the anti-tank guided missile attack on an Israeli army post near the northern Israeli village of Arab al-Aramshe.

On Tuesday night, Hezbollah carried out a separate anti-tank missile attack against an unoccupied IDF armored vehicle on the Lebanon border.

That attack came after 15 rockets were launched from Lebanon at the Western Galilee, causing no injuries. The Gaza Strip-based Hamas later claimed responsibility for the rocket attack from Lebanon.

The IDF said it hit three Hezbollah posts in response to the rocket fire and anti-tank missile attack on Tuesday.

On Monday, Israeli forces clashed with terrorists on the Lebanon border. The clashes left three Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen dead. Three Hezbollah members were killed in Israel’s retaliatory bombing against the terror group’s sites.

Rockets were also launched at Israel from Lebanon on Sunday and Monday.

Israel has mobilized 360,000 reservists and appears increasingly likely to launch a ground offensive into Gaza, with its government under intense public pressure to topple Hamas, which has ruled the territory since 2007 and remained firmly in control through four previous wars.

An Egyptian official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that Cairo has been informed by Israel that it is readying for a monthslong ground campaign in Gaza.

In a call Tuesday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden, who gave an emotional speech decrying Hamas’s “sheer evil,” the Israeli premier conveyed that Israel was preparing for a long operation.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, some 1,055 have been killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza over the past five days.

More than 250,000 Gazans have fled their homes, the UN said, the most since a 2014 air and ground offensive by Israel uprooted about 400,000. The vast majority are sheltering in schools run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Damage to three water and sanitation sites have cut off services to 400,000 people, the UN said.

Wherever Hamas operates, Netanyahu warned on Monday night, “we will turn into a city of ruins.” PJC

Agencies contributed to this report

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