IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released December, 31, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

As 2024 begins, IDF releases 5 brigades from Gaza, but says fighting likely all year

Military says rocket launches down to average of 14 per day; ‘We are adjusting the fighting methods,’ spokesman says

By EMANUEL FABIAN |

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday it was beginning to release five brigades from combat in the Gaza Strip, as the military increasingly gains control on the ground.

The military said it believes the war against the terror group will likely continue throughout 2024, and said it was prepared for lengthy fighting, though in different phases from the high-intensity campaign it has waged so far.

The announcement came as troops continued to operate in Gaza. The 162nd Division remains focused on Gaza City’s Daraj and Tuffah neighborhoods; the 36th Division is fighting Hamas in central Gaza’s al-Bureij; and the 98th, 99th and Gaza divisions are operating in the Strip’s south, in the Khan Younis area.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, when some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from Gaza by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

In response, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas and launched a wide-scale offensive in the Strip, which the Hamas-run health ministry says has left at least 21,000 people dead. Figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified and include both civilians and terror operatives killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. According to IDF assessments, some 8,500 terror operatives have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war.

Ground operations have in recent weeks led to a significant decline in the number of rockets launched from Gaza at Israel.

According to IDF data, in the first week of December, after a weeklong truce with Hamas collapsed, 75 rockets were launched at Israel on average per day. In the following week, that number dropped to 23 rockets on average per day; between December 15 and 21, only 16 rockets were fired per day; and between December 22 to 27, that number dropped to 14.

The data does not include mortars launched at ground troops in Gaza, rockets fired at the sea, and failed launches.

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