A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says the military structure of Islamist Hamas has been dismantled in the north of the Gaza Strip.
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said that Hamas had two brigades with 12 regiments in the north of the coastal strip before the war began three months ago.
“There were about 14,000 terrorists in total,” Hagari said on Saturday. Since then, numerous commanders have been killed and weapons and ammunition destroyed. IDF soldiers found and demolished underground tunnels, he said.
In Jabalia refugee camp in the northern section of the Gaza Strip alone, Hagari said the army had found eight kilometres of underground tunnels and 40 entrances.
Hamas no longer functions in a coordinated way in the area, he said. “There are still terrorists in Jabalia, but now they operate without a framework and without commanders.”
However, he said further sporadic rocket attacks on Israel were expected from this area.
The Israeli army is now seeking to destroy Hamas structures in the centre and southern Gaza Strip, a process he said would take time. The fighting will continue throughout the year, Hagari said.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said in November that Hamas had lost its control of Gaza. However, the fighting continued.
So far, Israel says some 8,000 terrorists have been killed since the conflict began after unprecedented terror attacks by extremist Hamas and other groups on October 7.
Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza that has claimed the lives of at least 22,722 people, according to the health authority which is controlled by Hamas.
Abroad, criticism of the operation is growing, given the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the sealed-off area and high number of civilian casualties.
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