Palestinian sources reported Thursday that the "Iranian Unit" of Hamas, members of the group's military wing trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, had been destroyed.
According to the sources, most of the unit's members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood, where they had been deployed by the military leadership of Hamas.
The unit numbered approximately 100 men who had traveled to Iran and Hezbollah camps, mostly in the Beka'a Valley, where they were trained in infantry fighting tactics. The militants were also trained in the use of anti-tank missiles, the detonation of explosives, among other skills.
They managed to return to the Gaza Strip through tunnels in the Rafah border area, although a few also crossed during one of the few times that Egypt agreed to open the border crossing as a gesture of good will to Hamas.
The same sources also noted that Iran is preparing for an end to the fighting, at which point they want to send money to the Gaza Strip in order to assist Hamas in rebuilding destroyed homes - but also restore its military capabilities.
Meanwhile, IDF ground forces began operating Thursday inside Gaza City. The IDF took control of one of the large residential neighborhoods of the city, Tel al-Hawa, that borders the center of the city.
Palestinian sources also reported that IDF forces were operating close to the Hamas "security quarter," in southwestern Gaza.
The Southern Command has stepped up the offensive operations of the ground forces in anticipation of a cease-fire being declared in the near future.
Senior officers said Thursday that there are probably no more than a few days until the end of the fighting.
Palestinians reported more than 50 dead Thursday during the fighting in the city. The estimated total of Palestinian casualties since the start of the fighting 20 days ago has climbed to 1095 dead and about 5000 wounded.
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