Civil disobedience, looting and unprecedented criticism of Hamas on social media show that Hamas control in Gaza is slipping away, Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, the IDF’s international spokesman said in an exclusive briefing.
‘Our assessment is that their command functions and their ability to effectively conduct military operations and control the population simultaneously, is challenged,’ he said.
‘And their ability to do so is limited – they’re not totally vanquished. They still have some control and influence, but it is far from what they would like and a big difference from what there was a month ago.’
He said as well as civil unrest and looting, ‘Public resentment is showing on social media, where people are expressing their feelings towards Hamas about how disappointed they are, how challenged.
‘According to what they’re saying it feels they are abandoned by Hamas, with civilians being exposed to the horrors of the fighting while Hamas have taken to the bunkers and tunnels.
An Israeli soldier works amid the ongoing ground invasion against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, November 8, 2023
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood, where buildings are heavily damaged or collapsed in the southern part of Gaza City on November 09, 2023
This image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a Shortwave Infrared close view of a number of burning buildings and active fires burning in Gaza City, November 7
‘But in terms of control, our troop presence on the ground, and the advances we’ve made in the heart of Gaza City are challenging Hamas’ ability to control and exert power.
‘Our aim is to disrupt their ability to conduct combat operations and to sustain themselves. We’re doing that by attacking their strongholds and infrastructure wherever they are.
‘We’ve dismantled more than 15 company-size and battalion-size Hamas strongholds.’
He denied that the IDF was attacking hospitals, even Al Shifa, which the Israelis claim sits above Hamas’ huge main command and control bunker.
He said Israel had told the manager and senior staff of the hospital they could evacuate to the east of the facility and denied they had laid siege to Al Shifa.
He added: ‘But we have troops around it, and of course, we are applying pressure on Hamas combatants. ‘
Asked about an Israeli offer to help move up to 40 babies in a neo-natal unit to safety, he said: ‘It’s a complicated medical manoeuvre, even in peacetime to move babies like this, but we understand the sensitivity.
‘We want these babies and other non-combatants to be spared, and not affected by the fighting, and hopefully we’ll be able to succeed and we’re working on it now.’
Lt Col Conricus’ words came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Hamas was ‘doing everything in its power’ to keep civilians in hospitals.
He said the terrorist group was purposefully attempting ‘to keep them in harm’s way’ and added that an Israeli offer to supply fuel to the hospital had been turned down by the Hamas-run health ministry.
An Israeli flag flies at a position in southern Israel while across the border in the Gaza Strip and a fireball erupts during Israeli bombardment on November 8
Israeli soldiers walk through rubble, amid the ground invasion against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, November 8, 2023
Lt. Col. Ido stands in a damaged bedroom, which is located, as he claims, above a workshop that was used for weapon production inside a residential building
Israeli soldiers inspect the entrance to what they say is a tunnel used by militants of Hamas
But Melanie Ward, chief executive of the group Medical Aid for Palestinians, questioned how the evacuation of babies from Al Shifa could be undertaken safely.
‘The transfer of critically-ill neonates is a complex and technical process,’ Ward said.
‘With ambulances unable to reach the hospital…. and no hospital with capacity to receive them, there is no indication of how this can be done safely.’
For days, Al-Shifa officials have said that dozens of bodies have been abandoned near the hospital and in its courtyard.
Al Shifa and another major one, Al-Quds, announced they were suspending operations. More people are killed and wounded daily, but there are fewer and fewer places for the injured to go.
A plastic surgeon in Shifa hospital said bombing of the building housing incubators had forced them to line up premature babies on ordinary beds, using the little power available to turn the air conditioning to warm.
‘We know this is very risky,’ said Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati. ‘We are expecting to lose more of them day by day.’
Palestinian officials said on Friday that 11,078 Gaza residents had been killed in air and artillery strikes since then, around 40% of them children.
An Israeli soldier operates amid the ongoing ground invasion in the Gaza Strip against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at Israel’s border with Gaza in southern Israel, November 8
In a building in the heart of the Sheik Radwan neighbourhood in the north of the Gaza Strip
The IDF launched an invasion on Gaza after Hamas terrorists slaughtered 1,400 Israelis and other nationals on October 7
Disease is spreading among evacuees packed into schools and other shelters and surviving on tiny amounts of food and water, international aid agencies say.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said said 13 people were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Khan Younis in southern Gaza yesterday
Residents also reported increased fighting around Al-Shati refugee camp, by the coast in northern Gaza. The IDF said it had killed a number of militants there and called on civilians to use a four-hour pause to evacuate south.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, which like Hamas is backed by Iran, escalated its attacks on northern Israel, firing anti-tank missiles at electricity workers, injuring several of them, one critically, Israel said. The strike was followed by tit-for-tat exchanges between the IDF and Hezbollah with the Israelis firing artillery and mounting air strikes while the terrorists fired rockets and mortars.
The escalation followed a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah at the weekend, threatening to increase the number and severity of weapons aimed at Israel. The Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant threatened Hezbollah saying ‘What we can do in Gaza, we can also do in Beirut.’
Five US servicemen were killed in the eastern Mediterranean when a routine air refuelling training exercise went wrong, the Pentagon said last night.