Hamas admitted losing 6,000 fighters
Gunmen from the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, march in Gaza in 2022. Photo: AFP

Hamas officials said the group lost 6,000 fighters in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the conflict, half the figure given by Israel.

“Mr. Netanyahu is facing difficult choices, and so are we. He may take over Gaza, but Hamas is still standing and fighting. He has not achieved his goal of taking down the leader of Hamas or eliminating group book,” a Hamas official in Qatar told Reuters on February 18, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to this official, Hamas has lost about 6,000 fighters since fighting in the Gaza Strip broke out four months ago. Israel previously announced that it had killed 12,000 Hamas members in the strip of land, in addition to 1,000 of the group’s fighters in its territory in a raid on October 7 last year.

This is the first time Hamas has admitted that it lost thousands of members in the conflict with Israel in the Gaza Strip. The group previously only released aggregate figures on Palestinians killed in the fighting, including both civilians and Hamas fighters.

Despite suffering losses, Hamas officials affirmed that the group would continue to fight and warned Israel to prepare for a long war in Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly affirmed that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will launch a ground operation into Rafah after completing its mission in Khan Younis, despite the international community’s warning of the risk of a “nuclear disaster.” religion” if the Israeli army sends troops into this city.

On February 18, Israel’s Defense Minister announced that Hamas’s Khan Younis Brigade had been “defeated and no longer operates as a military entity”. He announced that the IDF will continue its campaign to eliminate the armed group’s six remaining brigades, including two in central Gaza and four units in the city of Rafah.

Some Israeli officials said the IDF plans to maintain the current level of attack intensity for another 6-8 weeks before reducing the scale of the campaign and switching to smaller raids.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched a coordinated attack campaign on Israeli territory, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages. The IDF then conducted large-scale retaliatory air strikes and sent forces into the Gaza Strip to “eradicate” the armed group.

According to data from health authorities controlled by Hamas, the conflict in Gaza has left 28,895 people dead and 68,883 injured as of December 18, mainly women and children. More than 85% of the 2.3 million residents in the Gaza Strip have been displaced, most of whom are now concentrated in Rafah, a city with a population of about 300,000 before the fighting broke out.

US President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Netanyahu twice last week, warning him not to launch a ground operation into Rafah before developing a plan to ensure the safety of civilians. Mr. Nentayahu confirmed that Israel would allow people to leave the city before launching an attack.