February 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Combat Battalions Down 70%

February 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Combat Battalions Down 70%

Latest Developments

Israeli forces have dismantled 17 of Hamas’s 24 combat battalions in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on February 4. The other seven Hamas battalions remain mostly in southern Gaza. “We will take care of them, too,” Netanyahu said in a statement. Khan Younis is one prevailing Hamas stronghold, where Israeli tanks and troops have been operating for weeks. Another is Rafah, along the Egyptian border, where there have been no major ground operations so far.

Palestinians to the north and in central areas of the strip, including Gaza City, have been reporting renewed incursions by Israeli forces, which had pulled back in recent days. Netanyahu described these as “mopping-up operations” that are necessary following the toppling of the battalions. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue to dismantle Hamas’s extensive tunnel network across Khan Younis and elsewhere. “This demands more time yet,” the prime minister explained.

Expert Analysis

“Each day brings updates on the impressive pace of Israel’s counter-terrorism operation in Gaza, which is, in many ways, unprecedented in scale and complexity. It appears Hamas banks on its remaining battalions’ proximity to Egypt — and perhaps its possession of the hostages — to grant Hamas immunity. Cairo should be using this as leverage.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The increasing defeat of Hamas in Gaza is an important achievement for the IDF. Hamas terrorists have lost control of significant areas in Gaza, enabling the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure the group built up over previous decades. It is essential the IDF be supported in its efforts to prevent further threats by Hamas and other terrorist groups to Israel and the region.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

Potential Truce

At the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting on February 4, Netanyahu briefed ministers on the counter-terrorism operation’s progress in Gaza, amid speculation that another Qatari and Egyptian-mediated truce could be looming. Israel’s efforts to retrieve remaining Gaza hostages are ongoing. “But we will not agree to any deal, and not at any price,” Netanyahu said, alluding to the truce negotiations. Hamas and the allied terrorist group Islamic Jihad have proposed that, for Hamas to release all hostages, Israel must permanently end the Gaza war and free all of the approximately 8,800 Palestinian terrorists held by Israel.

Hamas Smashed in Khan Younis,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Destroys Long-Range Missile Launcher in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel, Hamas Weigh Three-Stage Deal for Return of Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief


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