Photo by IDF Spokesperson on 29 October, 2023

Two Israeli Soldiers Wounded as Ground Op Expands in Gaza

Public By Joshua Marks • 29 October, 2023

Jerusalem, 29 October, 2023 (TPS) -- Two Israeli soldiers were wounded in separate incidents in the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday as the Israel Defense Forces continued to expand its ground operations in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

An officer was severely wounded by a mortar shell, while another soldier was moderately wounded while engaging terrorist forces in the Strip, according to the IDF. Both were evacuated to hospital for medical treatment and their families were notified.

Soldiers of the 52nd Battalion of the 401st Brigade who entered the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday raised the Israeli flag on one of the buildings there, according to video documentation shared online.

A soldier recording his comrades raising the flag, can be heard in the video saying that three weeks after the Oct. 7 massacre of Israelis by Hamas terrorists, troops “lift the flag of Israel in the heart of Gaza, along the beach. We will not forget, we will not forgive and we will not stop until victory.”

It was reportedly the first time that an Israeli flag was raised in Gaza since the 2005 disengagement.

More than 450 Hamas military targets were hit in Gaza over the past day, including operational command centers, observation posts and anti-tank missile launch posts, according to the military.

The Israeli home front continued to face rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip over the weekend, with barrages fired at greater Tel Aviv and Beersheva on Saturday.

A rocket scored a direct hit on a home in Beersheva, but no injuries were reported. Rockets also landed in the central cities of Ramat Gan, Holon and Kiryat Ono, lightly injuring three people.

On Sunday morning, sirens sounded in Moshav Netiv Ha’asara on the northern Gaza border.

Also on Sunday morning, internet service was being partially restored in the coastal enclave after being disrupted on Friday and Saturday amid heavy Israeli bombardment, according to NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance.

The Hostages

Israel launched “Operation Swords of Iron” on Oct. 7 after Hamas invaded southern Israel, murdering at least 1,400 people, wounding more than 5,000 and taking over 200 hostages back to Gaza. According to the IDF, the families of 230 people have been notified that their loved ones are being held by Hamas.

IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari warned on Saturday that that number is not final and could still rise as the military gathers more information.

Hamas has released four hostages since Oct. 7: mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Ra’anan on Oct. 20, and Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper on Oct. 23.

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar said on Saturday that the terrorist group is ready for a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

“We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance,” Sinwar said in a statement.

IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari dismissed Sinwar’s statement, saying that it was “psychological terror cynically used by Hamas to create pressure.”

“Nothing is on the table regarding the abductees,” said Hagari.

The IDF spokesperson also noted that the statement had not come directly from the Hamas leader.

“Sinwar can’t issue statements; he speaks through intermediaries. Hamas doesn’t communicate directly with Israel,” he said.

Israel, he added, “will continue all efforts—both civilian and intelligence-based—to retrieve the hostages.”

Israel holds Sinwar directly responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre, along with Hamas “military wing” chief Muhammad Deif.

The IDF on Sunday published a list of the high-ranking Hamas terrorists killed by Israeli forces since Oct. 7.

On Israel’s northern front, IDF warplanes hit Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Saturday night in response to attacks on Israeli territory by the Iranian terror proxy, the army said.

A military compound and observation posts were destroyed, according to the IDF, which provided video of the strikes.