Israeli troops are already operating in the “heart” of Gaza City, which is the base of the Palestinian radical movement Hamas, according to press agencies, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said. According to the minister, Hamas leader Jahjá Sinvár is isolated in his bunker and has no contact with his surroundings. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also confirmed the advance of Israeli troops into the besieged city.
Galant said in a televised statement that ground forces Israeli army have attacked terrorist strongholds in Gaza “from all directions, in perfect coordination with naval and air forces” and are “tightening the noose” around the city. According to the minister, the leader of Hamas Sinvár is hiding in his bunker, has no contact with his colleagues and will be eliminated, The Times of Israel reported.
Galant reiterated that Israel makes any humanitarian pause in the fighting in the Gaza Strip conditional on the release of all hostages that Hamas dragged after the October 7 attack on Israel. According to him, despite pressure to declare a ceasefire, the army cannot let up in fighting until the complete defeat of Hamas and the return of all hostages.
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In the Gaza Strip, which he described as “the largest terrorist base ever built”, there will be no current wars neither Israel nor the Hamas movement should rule, the defense minister added. However, he did not provide details on the future arrangement of the area. In this context, the spokesperson of the US Department of State stated that the United States is against a possible new long-term occupation of the Gaza Strip by Israel.
Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip, which it had occupied since 1967, based on the peace agreements in 2005, when it evacuated twenty Jewish settlements. In 2007, the Hamas movement took control of the area, having previously defeated the moderate Palestinian movement Fatah in parliamentary elections in 2006, whose chairman is the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu: Israel’s phenomenal success
According to the newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu stated in interviews with soldiers that the army’s progress in The Gaza Strip is a “phenomenal success,” and reiterated that Israel will continue fighting until the very end.
In a televised speech, the prime minister then said that Gaza was surrounded and the Israeli army was operating inside the city as part of a ground operation against Hamas. He stated that until Hamas releases the Israeli hostages, no ceasefire will be declared and no supplies will be allowed fuel to the band. At the same time, he repeated the call to Palestinian civilians to move south for their own safety. “We will not stop,” Netanyahu said.
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In his speech, Minister Galant further stated that 70 fighters of this movement have already been killed in cross-border clashes between the Israeli army and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, adding that Israel has no interest in waging war with this armed Shiite Islamist group. The Israeli-Lebanese border has seen the heaviest clashes since Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah in the past month, and on Tuesday, another 20 rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel.
A large-scale military operation
Israel launched a major military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after an attack on Saturday, October 7 militants of the movement in the south of Israel killed over 1400 people, mostly civilians. Another 240 or so people were taken to the Gaza Strip as hostages. At least 10,328 people have died in retaliatory Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, AFP reported, citing the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.