Thousands of Gazans fled toward the territory’s southern half using a humanitarian corridor opened by the IDF via the Salah-a-Din Road on Wednesday, representing a jump in the number of evacuees as compared to recent days.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the number had topped 15,000 people for the day.
IDF Arabic language spokesman Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee on X called on Gazans to “join the hundreds of thousands” who have evacuated already and to head south between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Later Wednesday, Adraee sent out an updated message on X, saying “in response to your great response since the morning hours, we have decided to extend the operation of the safe corridor on the Salah al-Din Road for the movement of residents to the south of Wadi Gaza by an additional hour!”
“For your safety, join the large thousands who headed to the southern Wadi Gaza area since the morning hours, so seize the opportunity until three o’clock in the afternoon to protect yourselves and members of your families,” he wrote.
Gazans flee southwards along the IDF’s humanitarian corridor, opened for a few hours, November 8, 2023 (IDF)
IDF Chief Spokesman Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari said that the military would continue on Thursday providing a corridor for Palestinians to head south from northern Gaza,
Previously, between 750,000 and one million Gazans had already evacuated northern Gaza where most of the IDF’s ground invasion has been focused since the end of October.
Exchanges of fire on the Lebanese border
On the northern Lebanese border, there were two rounds of exchanges, with Hezbollah firing two rockets earlier Wednesday at Shtula and the Yiftach area and firing anti tank missiles later in the day.
The IDF responded with artillery and tank fire to the source of the rocket fire.
Two soldiers were wounded by the anti-tank missiles and were evacuated for medical care, while the IDF responded to the anti-tank fire with artillery fire of its own.
Hamas also continued to fire rockets on Wednesday, but, at press time, both Hezbollah and Hamas had seen a relative drop in attacks on Israel’s territory.
The Hamas drop continued a tenuous trend from Tuesday, whereas the Hezbollah drop was the first day of a reduction after multiple days of escalation.
Four IDF soldiers killed in Gaza, one near Lebanon border
Also on Wednesday, the IDF announced the names of IDF soldiers who were killed in recent fighting in northern Gaza as: Noam Yosef Abou, 20 from Dimona, from the Division 931, the Nahal Brigade, Yonatan Hatzur, 22 from Katzir, of Shaldag special forces, and Yaakov Ozri, 28 of Shamai Village from tank battalion unit 52.
It was also announced on Wednesday that a 55-year-old Kiryat Shmona resident, Meir Moyal, had been killed earlier in the week during reserves service related operations.
Another soldier was also injured in fighting in northern Gaza.
To date, the IDF has said that 351 IDF soldiers have been killed since October 7, and the Hamas hostage count is at 239.
IDF kills Hamas’s Weapons and Industries head
Earlier Wednesday, the head of Hamas’s Weapons and Industries Department, Mahsan Abu-Zina, was eliminated by the IDF in an airstrike in the Gaza Strip, the IDF and Shin Bet said.
Abu-Zina was one of the leaders in Hamas for producing weapons for the terrorist organization and specialized in the production of strategic ammunition and rockets.
The weapons production leader is the latest in a series of senior Hamas members killed amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, though Hamas’s top two leaders Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif are still at large.
Separately, IDF ground troops and “Yahalom” soldiers conducted joint activity in the Beit Hanoun area in order to locate and destroy terror tunnels.
The troops located a tunnel shaft near an UNWRA school and destroyed the terror tunnel.
To date, the IDF said it has neutralized 130 tunnel shafts.
In addition, the 7th Brigade of the IDF’s Armored Corps encountered and successfully neutralized terrorists who had been launching attacks from a well-coordinated position in the Gaza Strip, the IDF announced in a statement.
The encounter began when the soldiers of the brigade identified an anti-tank missile and observation station that had been in use by Hamas terrorists. It was discovered that this station was connected via an underground tunnel to a larger cache of weaponry.
Upon this discovery, the IDF immediately called in an airstrike, damaging the terrorist infrastructure.
As the operation unfolded, terrorists attempted to escape the initial strike by fleeing to the rooftop of a nearby building. However, their attempt to escape came to a quick end as they were targeted and eliminated in a subsequent airstrike, ensuring that they could not pose any further threat.
The IDF also spotted and neutralized a group of Hamas terrorists who were actively launching mortar shells into Israeli territory. With swift coordination, an aircraft, supported by a fighter jet from the Gaza Division’s Fire Control Center, executed a tactical strike.
This attack successfully hit the launch site, taking out both the position and the terrorists.
Lt.-Col. “G”, commander of the 7th Brigade assault unit, said, “There is no escape: Any terrorist who encounters the brigade will be eliminated, and any terrorist who tries to flee will fail.”
Israel does offer Hamas forces the opportunity to surrender if they put down their arms and come out with their hands raised.