Israeli airstrikes have targeted two mosques in the Gaza Strip, which were reportedly being used by Hamas as command centers to coordinate their ongoing major offensive.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated in an operational update that
“Fighter jets attacked two operational infrastructures that were located in mosques and were used by the terrorist organization Hamas to direct terror against the state of Israel.”
The IDF alleged that Hamas was exploiting these holy sites and the civilian population in Gaza to avoid Israel’s response to the surprise attacks initiated by the group on Saturday.
Israel has halted electricity supply to the Palestinian territory and conducted numerous airstrikes against Hamas targets following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war against the militant group. Netanyahu, in a televised address on Saturday night, pledged to “take revenge for this black day” and transform all Gaza Strip locations used by Hamas into “ruins.”
Netanyahu stated, “All the places that Hamas hides in, operates in, we will turn into ruins,” and urged civilians in the area to evacuate immediately.
The conflict began on Saturday when Hamas launched rockets into Israel and infiltrated villages in the southern part of the country with militants. Media reports indicate that more than 300 Israelis have been killed, with nearly 1,600 wounded. Dozens of Israeli civilians and troops were captured and taken to Gaza, and rocket attacks on Israel persisted into Saturday night.
In retaliation, Israel’s strikes against Hamas resulted in the deaths of over 230 individuals and injuries to nearly 1,800, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri informed Al Jazeera that the group had taken numerous Israelis, including senior officers, and anticipated negotiating a prisoner exchange to secure the release of thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Al Jazeera television showed a residential tower apparently struck in an Israeli air raid while one of its journalists was reporting live from the scene in central Gaza City.
Hamas Grabbing Hostages to Protect Gaza from Israeli Retaliation
The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has contradicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that “dozens” of Israelis were captured during the ongoing operation against the regime.
Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, conveyed this information in a recorded message broadcast shortly after midnight on Sunday.
In his message, he said,
“Today, you talked about dozens of prisoners and we reassure you, Netanyahu, that your prisoners are many times more than this number, and you must keep track of your soldiers well.”
“These prisoners are present in all areas [across Gaza], and everything that happens to our people in the Gaza Strip is happening to them.”
Hamas fighters have apprehended a significant number of Israeli forces and settlers since the launch of Operation al-Aqsa Storm early Saturday, marking the largest operation by Palestinian resistance groups against the occupying regime in years.
The operation has involved extensive rocket attacks and surprise assaults by resistance fighters against Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied territories. Thus far, approximately 300 Israelis have lost their lives due to the operation, with thousands more sustaining injuries, including hundreds in critical condition.
Leaders of the Palestinian resistance view this operation as a decisive response to the Israeli regime’s continuous campaign of violence and devastation against Palestinians.
In response to Netanyahu’s remarks, Abu Ubaida addressed the alleged intention of the Israeli military to “use all its force” to eliminate the military capabilities of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements.
Abu Ubaida emphasized that Netanyahu’s statement reflected a profound crisis for the Israeli entity, asserting,
“Threatening Gaza is a losing game.”
He went on to say,
“You threaten us with any army, Netanyahu, with your soldiers who fled like locusts in front of the Qassam fighters in their hundreds, leaving everything behind.”
This should finally answer the age-old question: ‘How could the Palestinians win with their small rockets against US-supplied F-16 jets?