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Israeli forces take control of Gaza’s harbor


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FDD's Long War Journal

Seth Frantzman

November 16, 2023

Israeli forces took control of Gaza City’s harbor on Thursday, Nov. 16, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. The harbor has civilian fishing boats and Hamas terrorists also used the harbor. “The Hamas terrorist organization used the harbor as a training facility for their naval commando forces for planning and executing naval terror attacks. Under the guise of a civilian harbor, Hamas used the area for training and carrying out terror attacks, all the while using civilian and Gaza harbor police vessels,” the IDF said. 

The control of the harbor is important because it follows other assaults and raids on Hamas naval commandos. Hamas built up its naval commandos over the last decade. It used them in a raid on Zikim Beach, which is just north of the Gaza border in Israel, in 2014 during the war that year. Hamas attacked the same beach in the morning hours of Oct. 7 as part of its massive strike on Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed in Israel. The offensive on Zikim involved numerous terrorists, and it took Israel more than one day to eliminate them all. When I drove down towards Zikim to cover the war on Oct. 8, 2023, for instance, I saw the bodies of two terrorists who had been recently eliminated that afternoon.  

Hamas continued to try to target this area because it is near the border of Gaza and is made up of dunes where terrorists can then infiltrate and threaten nearby communities. For instance, a second raid in late October was thwarted, the IDF said, and the commander of the naval unit was later killed.  

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Israeli soldiers were injured in fighting in the Sheikh Ijlin area southwest of Gaza City. The body of one hostage held by Hamas was found on Thursday. Hamas kidnaped Yehudit Weiss from Kibbutz Beeri on Oct. 7. Her body was found in a building next to Shifa Hospital. “In the structure in which Yehudit was located, military equipment including Kalashnikov rifles and RPGs were also found,” the IDF said. She is the second hostage that has been confirmed killed this week. Noa Marciano, an IDF soldier kidnapped from her observation unit on Oct. 7, was shown in a video released by Hamas this week. The IDF said on Nov. 14, she had been killed. Her body had not been recovered. 372 IDF soldiers have been killed since Oct. 7. Eighteen soldiers have been killed in ground operations in Gaza in the past week.  

Rocket fire from Gaza has decreased over the last several days, continuing a trend that appears to coincide with the IDF’s deeper operations in Gaza. There were no rocket attacks on central Israel on Nov. 16, for instance. In Lebanon, the IDF also “carried out strikes on Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon. The targets included a number of military posts from which Hezbollah terrorists operated,” the IDF said. This also represented a shift in tempo because it was not in immediate response to an attack but appeared to be a pre-emptive strike. The IDF did not elaborate on it.  

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