An IDF commander describes the operation to control the Hamas compound.

Lieutenant-Colonel Elichan described searching for senior Hamas leadership hideaway apartments as “just another day at the office.” The 36-year-old battalion commander recounted the mission in which they stumbled upon an apartment with a trapdoor leading to the Hamas tunnel system.

“We kept advancing, scanning houses,” Elichan recounted. “We knew that there were houses with terror infrastructure and terrorists,” he added. Elichan described the neighborhood as “luxurious,” with houses furnished nicely but also stocked with ammunition, weaponry, or Hamas paraphernalia.

“There wasn’t a single house without grenades, ammunition, Hamas uniforms, or something related to Hamas,” he noted.

Elichan participated in the IDF operation aimed at seizing control of the Hamas leadership command center. The compound featured a network of tunnels connecting hideaway apartments and offices used by senior Hamas officials, according to the IDF.

“One tunnel stood out from the rest,” Elichan explained, indicating they had stumbled upon an apartment used by senior Hamas figures like Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar. The tunnel, located in the basement and covered in ceramics, revealed an elevator descending 20 meters to tunnels below when they pushed on it.

“The division commander decided to sit in the tunnel, stating that this is where Sinwar and [Mohammed] Deif planned the massacre, and that is where he wanted to sit,” Elichan recalled. “It was a statement of values,” he added. “I want to sit here despite the condition because this is where they sat.”

Elichan’s battalion, alongside special forces, thoroughly explored the tunnel during their presence in the area. Upon departure, they destroyed the tunnel and its entrances. The battalion faced challenging conditions, encountering significant enemy engagement.

“In the last month, we had four or five encounters with the enemy. Some of our soldiers were injured, and two were killed by RPG fire,” Elichan recounted. “We had another very complex encounter, with enemy engagement over 48 hours. Whenever you encounter the enemy, tensions rise,” he added. “The battalion performed well, but we became accustomed to taking fire.”

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