Israel Defense Forces Evacuated 30 Premature Babies From Shifa Hospital

Israel Defense Forces Evacuated 30 Premature Babies From Shifa Hospital

Nov. 20, 2023, 8:09 a.m.

Israeli ground forces move deeper into Strip, raid Gaza City homes of senior Hamas officials; IDF ground operation death toll at 63; body of 12-year-old Be’eri girl identified

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that it had stepped up overnight airstrikes and ground forces began to maneuver deeper into the northern Gaza Strip, as the military’s death toll in the ground operation reached 63.

Fighter jets struck “many” Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip towns of Jabaliya, Beit Lahiya and Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, the military said.

Meanwhile, the IDF said troops of the Nahal Brigade, with tanks and air support, battled Hamas operatives on the outskirts of Jabaliya as well as Zeitoun.

Emirates hospital in Rafiah in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 19, 2023 (Mohammed ABED / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that it had stepped up overnight airstrikes and ground forces began to maneuver deeper into the northern Gaza Strip, as the military’s death toll in the ground operation reached 63.

Fighter jets struck “many” Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip towns of Jabaliya, Beit Lahiya and Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, the military said.

Meanwhile, the IDF said troops of the Nahal Brigade, with tanks and air support, battled Hamas operatives on the outskirts of Jabaliya as well as Zeitoun.

In one of the clashes, troops called in a drone strike on Hamas gunmen on a rooftop, and soldiers also recovered weapons in residential homes in the area.

At the same time, navy missile ships carried out strikes on Hamas sites along Gaza’s coast, the IDF said, adding that the navy aided ground troops with observation capabilities and firepower.

Much of Rimal, once one of the Strip’s toniest neighborhoods, has been destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

The military said troops have located some 35 tunnel shafts and dozens of weapons in Rimal and the Sheikh Ijlin neighborhood, and killed several Hamas operatives.

The forces also raided a Hamas military camp in the Rimal area, locating a weapons depot and seven rocket launchers, the IDF said.

The military also said Sunday that for the first time, one of the IDF Home Front Command’s search-and rescue-battalions, made up of male and female combat soldiers, was operating in Gaza.

Troops of the 498th “Shahar” Search and Rescue Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Yarden (whose last name is withheld for security concerns), joined the ground forces of the 162nd Division during the offensive against Hamas in Gaza. The IDF said the search and rescue soldiers had most recently been operating in Gaza City’s Shati camp with troops of the 460th Brigade.

The soldiers of the mixed-gender unit have been carrying out tasks “according to their expertise,” the IDF said, including searches for Hamas weaponry.

“The main unique skills are rescue and assistance if a structure collapses on our forces, and breaches. Our rescue equipment serves the maneuvering forces, certainly in built-up and dense areas,” said the commander of the Search And Rescue Brigade, Col. Elad Edri.

He said dozens of soldiers from the unit are operating in the Gaza Strip, and around 40% of them are women. “They do all the tasks that the men do,” Edri said.

During a recent raid by the Commando Brigade in a hotel in Gaza, where Hamas operatives were holed up, the 498th Battalion soldiers carried out a breach into an underground site, and discovered inside Hamas weaponry and intelligence materials.

In Shati, the search and rescue soldiers have been fighting alongside the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion.

Yarden, the battalion commander, said the soldiers aided Nahal troops by breaching buildings to enable quicker progress through the camp. “We have tools that the troops don’t have,” she said.

The 498th Battalion includes engineers who have been advising ground forces on whether or not a damaged building is safe to enter.

Also Sunday, the IDF announced Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi approved plans for the continuation of Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. The army said the plans were approved Saturday night following an assessment Halevi held at the IDF Southern Command in Beersheba with top military officials.

The IDF is currently operating on the ground in northern Gaza, but is expected to also operate in the Strip’s south in the future stages of the war.

Israeli forces at the hospital uncovered an entrance to a Hamas tunnel and a cache of weapons, in addition to other findings over the past few days

“We see the presence of Hamas in all hospitals. It is a clear presence. They make cynical use of the hospitals, like here in the heart of Shifa,” Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, head of the IDF Southern Command, said on Friday.

On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces said it had been asked by the hospital’s director to help those who would like to leave do so by a secure route. The IDF also said soldiers transferred over 6,000 liters of water and over 2,300 kilograms of food to Shifa.

On Sunday, the IDF announced the deaths of six soldiers killed during fighting in the Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in the ground offensive against Hamas to 63.

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