IDF says 500 terror suspects held in past month, some took part in Oct. 7 slaughter; Kerem Shalom crossing to open to ease aid flow as clips show apparent theft, looting of goods
Hamas battalions in the Jabaliya and Shejaiya neighborhoods in the northern Gaza Strip were on the verge of collapse Monday, said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, amid ongoing heavy fighting in and around the terror stronghold of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, and rocket fire on central Israel during the day.
“We have encircled the last strongholds of Hamas in Jabaliya and Shejaiya, the battalions that were considered invincible, that prepared for years to fight us, are on the verge of being dismantled,” Gallant said at a press conference Monday.
He said hundreds of Hamas operatives had surrendered to Israeli troops in recent days, which “shows what is happening” to the terror group.
Some of the operatives were arrested while hiding in civilian buildings, including schools and shelters for civilians, the IDF said, adding that some 350 are members of Hamas, and a further 120 are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The photos issued by the IDF on Monday showed fully-clothed detainees, unlike other photos coming out of Gaza in recent days showing suspects stripped down to their underwear, sights that caused backlash.
On Sunday, both National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari criticized the dissemination of photographs showing arrested terror suspects after they were searched for explosives, and vowed to stop the circulation of such images.
Speaking on Monday, Gallant said that among those arrested by the IDF were terrorists who participated in the October 7 shock terror onslaught on Israeli communities two months ago.
That Saturday morning, some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages — mostly civilians — under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. Some 1,000 of those terrorists were killed by Israel on October 7 and the following days.
Those captured, said Gallant, “are telling us very interesting things,” apparently alluding to intelligence gleaned from those prisoners.
He encouraged terrorists to surrender. “Whoever surrenders — his life is spared.”
Gallant also threatened Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind of the October 7 onslaught, saying his fate and that of “any other senior commander in Hamas, and the fate of the [low-ranking] terrorist is the same: surrender or die. There is no third option.”
Earlier Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar held an assessment in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, as the military pressed on with its ground offensive.