Israel may be nearing the end of its offensive against northern Gaza
Israeli soldiers fighting in the Gaza Strip in a photo released on November 21. Photo: IDF

Israel said it was attacking Hamas’s last strongholds in northern Gaza, preparing to end the ground campaign in the area.

“We have switched to fighting in the Daraj-Tuffah area adjacent to the Shejaiya district in Gaza City,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said on December 20.

According to him, this is the area where one of Hamas’s last battalions is located in the northern Gaza Strip, indicating that the IDF may be nearing completion of the ground campaign in this area of ​​the strip.

The IDF previously said it controlled the city of Beit Hanoun, Jabalia and several other areas in northern Gaza. Still, it will take several more days to capture the Shejaiya district, one of the sites of fiercest fighting since the beginning.

This force also announced that it had discovered and conducted airstrikes on a group of Hamas gunmen in the Shati refugee camp. However, it previously confirmed that it had complete control of this area, showing that small-scale fighting continues in places where The IDF claims it has been captured.

On December 20, the Israeli army also announced the discovery of a large tunnel system surrounding Palestine Square in Gaza City, connecting to bunkers, offices and residences of senior leaders of Hamas, including Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif.

According to Mr. Hagari, Hamas leaders conducted the raid on Israeli territory on October 7 from this tunnel system. “Hamas’s underground city in northern Gaza has been completely discovered,” he emphasized.

An IDF spokesman said Israel’s ground campaign is expanding to the south of the Gaza Strip, focusing on the underground hideout of Hamas leaders in the city of Khan Younis. “We will continue to pursue the Hamas leadership to the ends of the Gaza Strip,” Mr. Hagari affirmed.

Hamas launched a large-scale attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1,147 people in this country and injuring 8,730 people. Israel then launched a retaliation campaign against the Gaza Strip, killing nearly 20,000 people and injuring about 52,600 people, mostly civilians.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is in Qatar, went to Egypt to participate in talks brokered by Cairo to seek a ceasefire and hostage exchange with Israel. This is the second time Mr. Haniyeh has come to Egypt since the conflict with Israel broke out, after his first trip in early November. However, the parties have not yet agreed on a new ceasefire.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously announced that the army would continue to fight in the Gaza Strip “until victory is won and Hamas is wiped out.” However, he also affirmed that rescuing hostages is “the most important task” and said he sent the head of the Mossad intelligence agency to Europe twice to promote this process.

Location of Gaza City and municipalities in the Gaza Strip. Graphics: BBC

Location of Gaza City and municipalities in the Gaza Strip. Graphics: BBC