IDF paratroopers unit in Gaza.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
IDF ground forces continued their assault on Hamas’s network of tunnels, including some that surfaced within Israeli territory close to southern villages.
Soldiers from various brigades, including Nahal and the Engineering Corps, destroyed six tunnel shafts with controlled explosions throughout Sunday.
One tunnel in northern Gaza was found to contain five shafts and was packed with barrel bombs and communication lines. A second tunnel from northern Gaza to Israel had four shafts, one of which allowed terrorists to surface near Israeli villages located close to the border. A third tunnel in central Gaza contained eight shafts.
Additional tunnels were destroyed by the army in southern Gaza, including one that contained four shafts, one of which surfaced in Israeli territory.
When the underground structure was destroyed, secondary blasts were detected by the army, signifying the presence of bombs inside. The latter tunnel was 1.2 kilometers long, the army said.
Many of the tunnels began under homes in Gaza, including some in the Shejaia area.
Sunday was marked by heavy exchanges of fire between the IDF and Hamas attackers, who stepped up attempts to confront the IDF.
An Armored Corps unit detected two terrorists who emerged from a tunnel shaft in southern Gaza. The unit opened fire, killing both attackers.
There were no injuries among the soldiers.
Gaza medical sources said at least 50 Gazans had been killed and hundreds wounded in the IDF’s attacks.
The IDF has struck 566 terrorist targets, mostly through air strikes, throughout Gaza since the start of the ground offensive on Thursday night.
More than 50 targets were hiton Sunday. They included 23 homes used as command and control centers, seven underground rocket launchers, six rocket launchers that contained medium-range rockets, and a Hamas tunnel.
The IDF took 22 terrorists prisoner, and they are being questioned. More than 130 terrorists have been killed and 800 wounded.
Nineteen Artillery Corps units that operate the Sky Rider drone took part in the discovery of tunnel shafts and collected intelligence for ground forces.
The units helped confirm the absence of non-combatants in locations earmarked for air attack, allowing the army to return fire on terrorist attackers. Sky Rider units enabled the completion of more than 50 such sensor-to-shooter cycles since the beginning of the ground offensive on Thursday night.
On Sunday afternoon, Hamas members violated a humanitarian cease-fire requested by the Red Cross – and agreed to by Israel – in the Shejaia region and fired on IDF soldiers with anti-tank missiles and automatic weapons.
In response, the air force resumed strikes in Shejaia, firing on locations from which the army came under fire.
The IDF had agreed to a Red Cross request for a two-hour humanitarian cease-fire in Shejaia, which has been the target of heavy Israeli artillery and air attacks throughout Sunday. It extended the ceasefire further at the behest of the Red Cross.
Prior to the cease-fire, the IDF had been carrying out wide-ranging attacks in the area, which the army says is a nest of terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF called on residents of the area to take the opportunity of the cease-fire to vacate Shejaia and make their way to Gaza City.
Also on Sunday, the IDF set up a field hospital at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, to enable Gazan civilians to receive medical assistance.
Large numbers of ground forces entered the Gaza Strip overnight Saturday as Israel expanded its operation against Hamas. The increased presence in Gaza is aimed at destroying Hamas’s infrastructure, the IDF said. The decision followed a period of air strikes that allowed units being sent into Gaza to complete intensive training and preparations.