Israeli security officials said more than 7,000 members of the armed group Hamas died in Tel Aviv’s campaign in the Gaza Strip.
“This is just a minimum estimate. The actual number may be much larger because we do not know everything underneath the collapsed tunnels and buildings,” said Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi during the interview on December 9.
Israel insists its campaign is making progress. However, Israeli commander Herzi Halevi told soldiers that “we need to make more efforts.”
Health authorities in Gaza say 17,700 people in the strip have died in the Israeli operation, most of them women and children.
It is estimated that the military wing of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza has about 30,000 members, according to the BBC.
Since the ceasefire collapsed last week, Israel has stepped up its ground offensive into the southern half of the Gaza Strip. Both sides also reported increased fighting in the north.
Israel on December 9 asked Palestinians to leave the main city center of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, a day after the US vetoed Israel’s request for a ceasefire at the United Nations Security Council. Israel’s Arabic spokesman posted a map on social network X, showing six numbered blocks in Khan Younis that people need to evacuate urgently.
Israel issued a similar warning before attacking areas east of this city, causing people to fear that the new evacuation order signaled the next attack.
“It could be just a matter of time before they attack this area. We heard bombs all night long,” said Zainab Khalil, 57. He and 30 relatives and friends had to evacuate the area near Jalal Street in Khan Younis, where the Israeli army ordered evacuation.
Residents said that in central Gaza, Israeli tanks shelled Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps. Local health officials said seven Palestinians were killed in the airstrike in Bureij. Tel Aviv has not commented on this information.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US veto to reject the UN Security Council vote on the humanitarian ceasefire resolution. “Israel will continue our just fight to eliminate Hamas,” he said.
Netanyahu’s government launched a campaign against Hamas in Gaza after the armed group attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing nearly 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 hostages. Some 137 hostages remain held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip after about 100 were released under agreements reached between the parties.