As the Israel-Hamas war continues into its seventh month, hostilities on Sunday appeared to be focused on the border with Lebanon and the West Bank, but Israeli officials said further operations had been authorized in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised “and more painful blows’ to Hamas.

Israel’s Chief of General Staff Herchi Halevi “has approved further measures,” armed forces spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said yesterday.

According to Israeli state broadcaster Kan, among the approved plans are business in Rafaon the closed border with Egypt, despite pressure from many capitals not to proceed with a large-scale ground attack on the city where almost 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge, the vast majority of them displaced from other areas of the small enclave.

Orders for the hasty evacuation of civilians should be expected soon, according to the same source.

Despite the concerns of the international community, including Israel’s main ally, the US, the Israeli leadership describes the operation in Rafah as necessary, according to it the last stronghold of Hamas, to destroy the last units of its military arm. He argues that in a different case, there will be a reconstruction of it.

Earlier yesterday, in a video ahead of the Jewish Passover, Prime Minister Netanyahu said his army would “soon” deal “more painful blows” to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

He also said that Hamas had hardened its position in negotiations for the release of hostages it is holding in the Gaza Strip.

Instead of toning down “its radical positions, Hamas is now trying to stomp on our division, bolstered by pressure on the government,” its leader said. The Palestinian Islamist movement has so far rejected all the mediators’ proposals, he added.

Hamas is demanding a permanent cease-fire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the entire Gaza Strip, a large increase in aid distributed to the civilian population threatened by famine throughout the enclave, the return of the displaced to their homes and a “serious” deal exchange of hostages with Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli army spokesman Major General Hagari, addressing the hostages in the second singular, said yesterday “we will continue to fight until you come home”. He added that the relatives of the people who continue to be detained in the Gaza Strip for more than six months are experiencing an unbearable situation and everything must be done to release their loved ones.

As of a few weeks ago, Israeli sources believed that there were just under a hundred hostages left alive out of the 129 still in the enclave, but now fears are expressed that far more than 34 are dead.

According to the Hamas Health Ministry, some 34,100 people, mostly women and children, have been killed and nearly 77,000 others have been injured since the outbreak of war.

Yesterday attention was focused on the West Bank, where several Palestinians were killed in clashes with the Israeli army and a general strike was called.

A Palestinian tried to stab Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, but was shot and “neutralized”, the Israeli armed forces announced. The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry in Ramallah later said it was informed of the death of a 43-year-old woman in an incident in the northeastern part of the West Bank.

In Hebron, two Palestinians were killed yesterday morning after attacking Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint.

Also yesterday, a strike was called in the West Bank to protest the deaths of Palestinians in the Tulkarem refugee camp and in the Gaza Strip. Among others, Fatah, the movement of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, called for the strike.

The situation in the West Bank has gotten even worse since the beginning of the year.

According to the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry, 463 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7, most in Israeli military operations or settler raids. On the other hand, 19 Israelis have been killed in attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

On the so-called northern front, new exchanges of fire broke out on the border yesterday, with the Israeli army announcing that the village of Ros Hanikra, on the Israeli coast in the Mediterranean, was hit twice. The fire was returned and Israeli warplanes bombed “terrorist” infrastructure in southern Lebanon, he said.

Clashes between Hezbollah and the Israeli armed forces have been practically daily since the day after the Israel/Hamas war broke out. It is the worst flare-up of violence since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, heightening concerns that the conflict could spread to the region.

More than 370 people have been killed in Lebanon, including more than 240 fighters from Hezbollah and other organizations, as well as at least 68 civilians. Eighteen people have been killed in Israel – ten soldiers and eight civilians – according to Israeli sources.

Israel’s government has hastily evacuated some 60,000 residents of the border region since the clashes began. In Lebanon, some 90,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.