Le Monde: Israeli army has little hope of freeing prisoners by force

Le Monde newspaper, which was with Israeli troops for a few hours in the city of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, said Israeli forces were, for the first time, slowly diving into the dense network of tunnels from the Islamic resistance. Movement (Hamas) beneath a city that has been reduced to rubble.

The newspaper reported in a report written by Lewis Imper that the Israeli army, which maintains a large number of bulldozers and armored excavation equipment along with its tanks, has been digging underground in search of Hamas tunnels, without regard to Palestinian buildings. Leaving behind only a pile of debris.

Last Sunday, the newspaper's correspondent in an armored car crosses one of the gaps created by Hamas in the fence, where only a small number are allowed to enter, in the city of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, October 7, 2023 It was that of Palestinian farmers before the war. Israel destroyed buildings. The intention is to establish a “buffer zone” one kilometer deep in the strip.

military censorship

The car passes between debris dams several meters high on either side of the track. Passengers can only be seen through narrow openings in the armored vehicle and through surveillance screens, and thus – says the author – “we will not see the hospital surrounded by troops nearby, and we will not see the hundreds of residents of the city who have been evacuated.” The army has arrested and about whom there is no news, and we will not see the area around the refugee camp in which thousands of desperate Palestinians gather to the west of the city.”

That day, General Dan Goldfuss was flanked by 6 European and American media outlets, including a journalist from an evangelical Christian television channel committed to the Israeli cause, enthusiastically repeating the officer's every word in front of his camera. .

The military censor asked to read our article, but did not request any changes, knowing that the military prevents the press from going into the Gaza Strip without cooperation, after dozens of allies were killed in the strip.

In the center of the city of Khan Yunis, Dan Goldfuss points down a dirt slope that runs beneath a group of destroyed houses to the entrance of a tunnel where the general believes he will meet Hamas. The core of the secret military installations concerned has been reached, their destruction is hypothetical due to their enormous size, but the military is pursuing those responsible there, and claims that part of these facilities will be usable for a certain period. Will not done.

The officer says, “You don't have to destroy all the tunnels. The important thing is to get to the heart of the network, and today we are at the most important of them. We are now working where Sinwar and his friends were.” Given that the purpose of this tunnel was to house officers, it was then converted into a prison, and has been identified. He claimed that there was DNA of at least 12 prisoners there.

Concern for prisoners' families

After describing a section of tunnel slightly less than a kilometer long, the author says that Goldfuss refuses to tell how long it took his men to control such a tunnel. An unnamed officer said that the most resistance they faced in Khan Yunis was small groups of two to five people. They come out of a tunnel or move from one weapons store to another in civilian clothes, and they live in apartments.

Goldfuss expressed little hope of releasing the detainees, saying, “We will take them back, directly or indirectly. But we have given our leaders room to maneuver in returning the detainees.”

Indeed, the reporter says, General Gadi Eisenkot, the member of the military cabinet running the operation, had said some time ago that it was an “illusion” to expect the detainees to be released before their captors were shot dead.

The Israeli government says that military pressure on Hamas leaders will convince them to release the detainees, but the families fear that these operations will lead to their executions. The army acknowledged that it informed relatives of 31 detainees about their deaths, but did not specify whether they were killed on or after 7 October, or in army bombings and raids.

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