Jerusalem/Gaza (Reuters) — Israel said on Tuesday that it has launched an attack on Hamas terrorists under the Islamists’ extensive network of tunnels beneath Gaza. This came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected demands for a ceasefire to alleviate the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.

As Israel steps up ground operations inside Gaza to destroy the governing Hamas movement in the wake of its gun rampage three weeks ago that left over 1,400 Palestinians dead, the tunnels are a major goal.

“Over the last day, combined IDF combat forces struck approximately 300 targets, including anti-tank missile and rocket launch posts below shafts, as well as military compounds inside underground tunnels belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization,” the Israel Defernce Forces (IDF) said in a

It further stated that militants retaliated with machine gun fire and anti-tank rockets.
“The soldiers killed terrorists and directed air forces to real-time strikes on targets and terror infrastructure,” according to the IDF.

According to witnesses, Israeli soldiers struck Gaza City from two directions on Monday, focusing on the city’s major north-south thoroughfare. Israel said that one of its soldiers was released from Hamas custody.

Of the 239 captives that Israel claims were taken on October 7, four civilians have been freed by Hamas, the militant Islamist organization that controls Gaza. It is thought that the Hamas tunnel network is home to a large number of hostages.

The militant group al-Qassam brigades, which is the armed branch of Hamas, reported that Israeli soldiers “invading the southern Gaza axis, (including) with machine guns, and targeted four vehicles with al-Yassin 105 missiles,” which are anti-tank missiles made in the region. Terrorists and Israeli forces engaged in combat early on Tuesday.

The terrorists used the missiles to strike two Israeli tanks and bulldozers in the northwest of Gaza, according to al-Qassam.

The claims of violence were not corroborated by Reuters. The Israeli military did not immediately respond.
According to Gaza’s health officials, since October 7, Israeli airstrikes have claimed the lives of 8,306 people—3,457 of them were kids. Of the approximately 2.3 million civilians living in Gaza, almost 1.4 million have been homeless, according to UN estimates.

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