The Israeli military said on Thursday that it had apprehended hundreds of people suspected of terrorism, including wanted Hamas operatives, across the Gaza Strip in a single day, and that many had surrendered and been transferred to Israel for further questioning.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief military spokesman, said in a televised briefing that many of the suspects under interrogation by the military and the Shin Bet domestic security agency had turned themselves over to the Israeli forces.
“The intelligence we gather from the questioning aids us in the continued fight,” he said.
The announcements of the surrenders and arrests came soon after photographs and videos surfaced on social media appearing to show rows of men stripped to their underwear, sitting or kneeling on the ground, with some bound and blindfolded.
The New York Times has not verified the images or the video. Admiral Hagari did not answer directly when asked about the images, but reiterated the Israeli military’s goal of finding and capturing Hamas operatives.
“They hide under the ground and come out and we battle them,” Admiral Hagari said. Some, he added, “come out of tunnel shafts and others out of houses. We question and investigate who among them is connected to Hamas and who is not. We detain all of them and interrogate them.”
Another military spokesman, Maj. Nir Dinar, said the military had not released the images and did not know when, or if, Israeli soldiers had taken them.
The Israeli military said in a statement that troops had arrested hundreds of people suspected of involvement in terrorism over the past day, during combat in Shejaiya and Jabaliya, Hamas strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip, and Khan Younis, another Hamas bastion in the south of the Palestinian enclave.
In addition, the military said, an army intelligence unit and the Shin Bet worked together on Thursday to arrest another 150 terrorism suspects, including Hamas operatives, from the area of the Jabaliya refugee camp, and that they were being questioned in Gaza. The military had previously stated that its human intelligence unit was operating an interrogation facility inside Gaza.
Since beginning its ground invasion of Gaza in late October, Israel has arrested hundreds of Palestinians, among them the director of Al-Shifa Hospital, the strip’s largest medical facility. Israel has contended that Hamas was using the hospital as a command-and-control center. The military has exposed a stretch of tunnel running under the hospital compound.
Admiral Hagari added that Israeli forces were advancing on Thursday and intensifying the battle against Hamas’s strongholds in northern and southern Gaza, killing senior commanders hiding in underground tunnels and destroying Hamas infrastructure.
The military said on Thursday that it had killed a senior Hamas operative in an airstrike a few days ago that hit Hamas’s central intelligence command center. The operative, it said, is Abdel Aziz Rantisi, from Hamas’ military intelligence unit, who the military said had been responsible for field intelligence in the strip and helped to plan the Oct. 7 assault in southern Israel.
Over the last few days, the military said, its forces have been fighting in close-quarter combat, killing “dozens” of armed operatives, and have located and destroyed weapons and underground infrastructure, “predominantly located inside and in the vicinity of civilian buildings,” as well as rocket launchers and tunnel shafts, including one inside a school in Shejaiya.
It was not possible to independently verify Israel’s account of the fighting.
Also on Thursday, an anti-tank missile that was fired into northern Israel from Lebanese territory killed an Israeli civilian. Israel said it had responded to that strike and additional launches from Lebanon with tank and artillery fire, and airstrikes against targets including what the military described as a command-and-control center of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite organization.