“The war will not stop until we have succeeded in eliminating Hamas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
Israel’s military said on Saturday it had “dismantled” Hamas’ “military structure” in the northern Gaza Strip, as its war against the Palestinian Islamist movement entered its fourth month amid fears it would flare up. throughout the Middle East.
Earlier today, eyewitnesses reported fresh Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip, now at the center of ongoing hostilities between the Israeli army and Hamas, with the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reporting that there are many dead and injured.
Last Saturday night, Chahal, the Israeli army, said it was now focusing on the central and southern part of the Palestinian enclave, after three months of war which it said allowed it to “dismantle” the military arm of Hamas in the north. of the small area with a large overpopulation (2.4 million inhabitants).
“We succeeded in dismantling the military structure of Hamas in the northern part of the Gaza Strip (…) We are now focusing on dismantling Hamas in the central and southern Gaza Strip,” spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters, noting however that evidence of Hamas continue to operate in northern Gaza, albeit “without structure and without commanders”.
“The war will not stop until we have achieved (including the stated objectives)”, which are “the elimination of Hamas, the recovery of the hostages and ensuring that there is no longer a threat to Israel,” he said yesterday Saturday in the evening Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel’s civil-military leadership has vowed to “eliminate” Hamas — which it labels a “terrorist” organization, as do the EU and the US — after its unprecedented attack on southern sectors of Israeli territory on October 7, in which some 1,140 people were killed, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official statements from the authorities. It was the deadliest attack by the Jewish state in 1948.
Fighters from Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups also took about 250 people hostage that day, more than 100 of whom were released in late November as part of a week-long truce.
Since then, Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip have killed at least 22,722 people, the vast majority of them women and children, according to the latest tally by the Hamas Health Ministry, which was made public yesterday Saturday. In other words, about 1% of the population of the Palestinian enclave.
The injured exceed 58,000, according to the same source.
Israeli anti-government protesters gathered last Saturday night in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, calling for early elections and the resignation of the Netanyahu government.
“Enough! Arrives! The government is a bunch of idiots. It takes us to a place of horror. It leads us to an unnamed future. Bibi Netanyahu and all his idiots are going to destroy Israel, to destroy everything we hoped and dreamed of,” said Shahaf Netzer, 54.
“All of us here want new elections. We need a new government. We need a new leader,” he added, as the Israeli opposition calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to step down, arguing he has not received a “vote of confidence” from the population to carry out “prolonged” military operations in the Gaza Strip.
In Paris and other French cities, thousands of people took part in demonstrations demanding a “ceasefire” and a show of support for the population of the Gaza Strip.
In a cemetery in Gaza City, Palestinians on Saturday reburied bodies that had been exhumed since Israeli ground operations began there in late October.
In a cloud of flies, about ten men, wearing gloves and surgical masks, reburied the remains. “We were surprised to see that bodies had been dug up,” commented one.
Israeli operations have flattened entire neighborhoods in Gaza and forced 1.9 million people—85 percent of the population, according to the UN—from their homes, without water, food, medicine, or medical care, as the more hospitals in the enclave have been shut down.
To the extent that the Gaza Strip has turned into a “place of death and despair,” utterly “uninhabitable,” as UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths summed up.
At the same time, in the West Bank, an Israeli strike killed six Palestinians in Jenin who were participating in a public gathering, the Ministry of Health of the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas announced in the early hours of today.
“Israel has declared that its goal is to eliminate Hamas. There must be some other way to eliminate Hamas, which does not cause so many deaths” among civilians, said the head of European diplomacy, Giuseppe Borrell, yesterday Saturday, during his visit to Lebanon, where he considered it “absolutely necessary” to prevent the outbreak of regional conflict.
Since October 8, the day after Hamas’s bloody attack on Israel that sparked this war, virtually daily exchanges of fire between Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Israeli army have killed 181 people in Lebanon, including 135 Shiite fighters. armed movement, according to an AFP tally.
And the tension reached its peak after the death in an airstrike attributed to Israel of the deputy leader of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, in a southern suburb of Beirut, a stronghold of Hezbollah. The “preliminary retaliation” of the Shiite movement, close to Iran and an ally of Hamas, was the launch of 62 rockets against an Israeli military base.
In Syria and Iraq, attacks on US military bases have surged since October 17, while in Yemen the Houthi rebels, also allies of Iran, have stepped up drone and missile strikes against merchant ships in the Red Sea, in a sign of “support” to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna yesterday called her Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian to demand that Iran and its allied forces “immediately” stop their “destabilizing actions” as “the risk of regional conflagration has never been greater.”
At the same time, the head of American diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, is in Jordan today, as part of his tour of the region with the stated purpose of preventing escalation in the region.
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