Extensive IDF Operation Targets Gaza's Elite Quarter and Shifting Dynamics in Ongoing Conflict
Stockholm: In a recent development, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have announced the successful discovery and subsequent destruction of an extensive underground infrastructure in Gaza City, specifically beneath Palestine Square. This intricate network, described as a hub for both the military and political activities of Hamas, comprised concealed tunnels, hiding spaces, and offices utilized by high-ranking members of the organization.
Aerial footage released by the IDF showcased a series of controlled explosions in the city center, effectively dismantling the subterranean facilities. The operation, concentrated in the Rimal neighborhood, reportedly resulted in the demise of approximately 600 Hamas militants, according to IDF statements. This particular complex is identified as a crucial focal point for both the military and political wings of Hamas, serving as what has been termed the "elite quarter" in Gaza City.
Palestine Square, at the heart of this operation, is alleged to have functioned as a center of military rule for Hamas, surrounded by structures repurposed as command and control centers, terror tunnel access points, and strategic buildings affiliated with the organization. Notably, the IDF emphasized that this infrastructure was intricately embedded within a bustling neighborhood, containing shops, residential buildings, and even a school for deaf children.
The IDF further claimed that this network was actively used by prominent Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, for coordinating various activities, notably the October 7 attack. Despite the IDF's actions, Israel, reportedly unsuccessful in reaching a new agreement with Hamas regarding a hostage release, is said to be pursuing fresh efforts to rescue the 129 Israelis currently held captive in Gaza.
While Israel remains hesitant to offer a lasting truce sought by Hamas, reports suggest a potential willingness to agree to a two-week ceasefire, a departure from the initial one-week proposal. Additionally, a somber revelation emerged from a frontier Israeli kibbutz, indicating that a 73-year-old Israeli-American resident, presumed kidnapped by Hamas, was actually a victim of the October 7 massacre, with his body transported to Gaza.
This revelation sheds light on the uncertainties surrounding individuals who went missing on the fateful morning of October 7. In another surprising twist, recent reports from NBC suggest that 26-year-old Noa Argamani was abducted by a civilian mob rather than by Hamas, challenging previous assumptions.
Amidst these developments, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called for a permanent ceasefire, noting that international pressure may soon compel Israel to end the conflict. Olmert emphasized the urgency of securing a deal that could potentially bring home the hostages while preserving international support for Israel's right to exist without terrorist threats.
The military escalation continues as Israel expands its ground operations in Gaza. Residents of Bureij town in central Gaza have been instructed to evacuate south, with the IDF's Arabic-language spokesman disseminating a map indicating the zones requiring evacuation, as reported by the Times of Israel. Despite Israel's declaration of safe areas, aid agencies express concerns about the safety of any location within the strip, underscoring the complex and challenging nature of the ongoing situation.