The IDF on Thursday released footage from a dramatic gun battle with Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip, along with a first-hand account from the commander of the battalion as he relayed what was happening.
Ground forces and tanks clashed with Hamas terror cells in northern Gaza overnight Wednesday-Thursday, killing numerous gunmen in intense and chaotic fighting that raged for over three hours following an ambush targeting soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion.
In a statement Thursday morning, the IDF said troops had taken part in “prolonged battles” against Hamas terrorists, who fired missiles, set off explosive devices and hurled grenades at the forces.
The Hamas fighters tried to ambush Israeli forces at midnight, emerging from tunnels and attacking with anti-tank missiles, mortars, and drones. They tried enter the armored personnel carriers and take control of them. More than 20 operatives were believed to have been killed and several managed to escape, while there were no Israeli fatalities in that fight.
“While we were stopping, Hamas terrorists jumped out of tunnels, surrounded us from a number of areas, fired RPGs, and tried to reach our Namer [armored personnel carriers], and place explosives,” the 13th Battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Tomer Greenberg, said in a video released by the IDF.
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“Because we were well prepared, we managed to kill some of them, push back the others… the result was that they were dead and we continued our maneuver, until victory,” Greenberg added.
In a radio recording from the fighting that was published by the IDF, Greenberg can be heard speaking with the commander of the Golani Brigade.
“We are facing a significant attack here, with missiles and assault attempts,” Greenberg said. “I just need suppressing fire to repel the terrorists’ attacks.”
“Whatever is outside the APC, kill,” he continued. “The main thing is to mop up the terror nest here.”
The IDF also released a short clip from the battle itself, showing troops inside an APC approaching the site of the fighting and opening fire.
הקרב ההרואי של גולני הלילה ברצועת עזה: ״התוצאה הייתה שהם הרוגים ואנחנו ממשיכים בתמרון, עד הניצחון״
הלילה לוחמי גדוד 13 של חטיבת גולני ולוחמי שריון מגדוד 53, נתקלו במספר חוליות מחבלים בשטח רצועת עזה. המחבלים ביצעו לעברם ירי של טילי נ״ט והפעילו לעברם מטענים רבים>> pic.twitter.com/q9iyFh5Jmw
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 2, 2023
The battles continued Thursday as IDF forces plunged deeper into the northern Gaza Strip, in an offensive that Israel says aims to destroy Hamas’s military and governance capabilities. Israel has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip, and says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates, while seeking to minimize civilian casualties.
In another clip released by the IDF, one of the officers who participated in the overnight fighting, Lt. “Nun” — who can only be identified by his rank and first initial in Hebrew — said it was an “excellent battle.”
“We encountered an ambush, and we battled dozens of terrorists. There are almost no injuries [to Israeli forces], and dozens of terrorists dead,” he said in the video statement.
He said it was an “excellent battle, a remarkable battle. And now we are preparing for the next battle, until victory.”
On Thursday evening, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said troops were operating inside Gaza City, and surrounding it from several directions.
“We have advanced another significant stage in the war. The forces are in the heart of northern Gaza, operating in Gaza City, surrounding it, and deepening [the ground offensive], and achievements,” Halevi said in a statement from an Air Force base.
“The forces are fighting in a dense and complex urban area, that requires professional combat, and courage,” he said.
This photo released by the Israeli military on Thursday, November 2, 2023, shows ground operations inside the Gaza Strip. (Israel Defense Forces via AP)
He said troops were engaged in close-quarters combat. “Ground forces are accompanied by accurate intelligence, with fire from the air and sea. This partnership makes combat much more effective,” Halevi continued.
“Our warriors, fighting in close quarters against a cruel enemy, have a huge advantage: Camaraderie and battle spirit flow through their veins,” he said. “The spirit of Israeli society and the justice of our cause accompany us at all times.”
Halevi added that this war carries “a painful and difficult price,” with 19 soldiers being killed in the ground operation so far. “We lost the best of our sons in the war, we embrace their families… we will continue to win.”
War erupted between Israel and Hamas after the October 7 massacres, which saw some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border from Gaza, killing some 1,400 people and seizing some 240 hostages of all ages, under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.