The Israel Defense Forces continued to pound Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, as the war sparked by the Palestinian terrorist group’s brutal Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state entered its fourth day.
The military said it struck the shaft of an underground tunnel and other assets used by Hamas to penetrate Israeli territory on Saturday and indiscriminately butcher at least 900 Israeli men, women and children.
Israel Air Force fighter jets also struck a mosque containing a Hamas operations and command center used to coordinate this weekend’s Iran-backed attack, in addition to “widespread” strikes against weapons depots and other terror infrastructure.
More than 200 sites were struck in Gaza overnight Monday, according to the military, including at least one Palestinian Islamic Jihad asset.
The IDF on Tuesday released the names of an additional 38 soldiers killed fighting Hamas, bringing the confirmed military death toll to 123.
Israel’s Army Radio reported on Tuesday that the IDF is set to inform over 100 Israeli families that their loved ones are being held hostage in Gaza.
Hamas has claimed that 163 Israelis were captured and taken back to the Strip during the Shabbos terror raid.
An Israeli official denied on Monday that Jerusalem was negotiating for the release of the hostages via Qatar. A senior official later confirmed to JNS that Israel is not involved in any kind of talks related to the release of the captives.
IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, tapped by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as coordinator for the captives and the missing, delivered a message to Israelis on Monday that he will do everything he can to return their loved ones to them.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday night confirmed that at least 11 Americans were killed during the Hamas attack, with others still unaccounted for and possibly being held in Gaza.
Israeli forces on Monday regained control of all the communities near the Gaza Strip after two days of fighting.
“We are in control of the ‘Gaza envelope’ communities,” said IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari. He warned, however, that there were still terrorists in the area, and Israel remains concerned over possible infiltration attempts via tunnels emanating in Gaza.
Hagari added that the military had called up 300,000 reservists during the past 48 hours.
On Tuesday, Hagari said the military had regained control of the Gaza border, after Palestinian terrorists blew up sections of the security fence during the invasion Saturday morning.
“In the last day, not a single terrorist entered via the fence,” he said.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza as the IDF ramped up its offensive.
“There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel; everything is closed,” Gallant stated following a situation assessment at the IDF Southern Command in Beersheva.
“We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly,” added the defense minister.
Also Monday, six Israelis were wounded fending off an infiltration along the northern border with Lebanon, amid fears Hezbollah could enter the war.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the cross-border attack in a statement posted on Telegram.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday evening published a message to the international community, urging countries to support the Jewish state as it moves to eliminate Palestinian terror threats.
“As president of the State of Israel, I speak to you now from our capital city Jerusalem under the dark shadow of war, as my nation continues to endure a savage attack from a cruel and inhumane enemy,” said Herzog.
“First, most importantly, make clear and loud condemnations of Hamas’s actions. Just as you condemned the abhorrent and unspeakable actions of ISIS. Because today, they are one and the same. Second, those nations that have yet to do so: Designate Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist body. Third, make clear that Hamas carries full responsibility and accountability for the well-being of the hostages it has taken and demand their immediate return to Israel. And fourth, support Israel—in words and in deeds,” added Herzog.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu convened a high-level security assessment, with the participation of Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and the heads of the Mossad and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), among others.
In an address to the nation on Monday night, Netanyahu laid out five immediate goals for the campaign against Hamas:
1. To purge the enemy from Israeli towns and communities and prevent the entry of additional enemy combatants, a battle he said was still being waged;
2. To carry out an attack on Hamas of “unprecedented intensity”;
3. To fortify the other fronts, including the northern border, along with Judea and Samaria and the rest of Israel;
4. To continue to strengthen international support “in order to preserve our field of action against our enemies”;
5. To foster unity among the Israeli people.
Netanyahu described Israel’s war with Hamas as “a war for the home, a war to secure our existence.”
“This war was forced upon us by a despicable enemy, human animals celebrating the murder of women, children and the elderly,” the prime minister said, speaking in Hebrew. “We have not seen the atrocities that Hamas committed since the horrors of ISIS.”
“Handcuffed children who were executed along with the rest of their families, young men and women shot in the back. They were executed,” he said.
Netanyahu promised Hamas would suffer the same fate as ISIS. “The enemy wanted war, he will get war.” JNS