Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced this Monday the end of the “intensive phase” of the war in the north of the Gaza Strip, and announced that it will soon also end in the Khan Younis area, where the militants are now concentrated. fighting in the south of the enclave.
Gallant explained that the troops are carrying out lower intensity operations in the north of the Strip, “after defeating all the Hamas battalions in the area”, the same day that the Israeli Army reported the withdrawal of one of the divisions. that operate in the enclave, where there are still three.
“In the south of the Gaza Strip, the intensive phase will end soon,” Gallant said in a press conference in reference to the battle of Khan Younis, a Hamas stronghold in the south, without giving an exact timetable.
The minister indicated that Israeli troops in Khan Younis are focused on finding “the head of the snake”, alluding to the leadership of Hamas, which they believe is hiding in the underground tunnels of that city.
Israel’s priority is to hunt down the leader of Hamas within the enclave, Yahya Sinwar, and the head of its military wing, Mohamed Deif, both considered the masterminds of the brutal attack on Israeli soil on October 7, which left more than 1,200 dead and about 250 kidnapped.
“We also cut the roads leading to Rafah above and below ground,” said Gallant, regarding the interruption of communications between Khan Younis and Rafah, at the southern end of the enclave, to prevent Hamas leaders from fleeing. .
For their part, in the north of the Strip, where the Israeli Army has almost complete military control, troops are already engaged in low-intensity operations “to locate the remaining Hamas sites and kill or capture the group’s last operatives.” terrorist,” the minister clarified.
The minister’s statements coincide with the announcement by the Israeli Army about the withdrawal of the 36th Division from the ground, for a period of recovery and training, as part of the Israeli strategy of a long-term campaign against Hamas, which also includes reinforcing troops in West Bank, where violence is on the rise.
Regarding post-war Gaza, Gallant indicated that it should be governed by the Palestinians, calming fears that Israel could occupy and colonize the territory, something demanded by the far right.
A few minutes after Hamas published a new propaganda video in which it reported the alleged death under bombs of two other hostages, Gallant insisted that only “military pressure” would allow the captives to be released.
“If the fire stops, the hostages’ fate will be sealed for many years in Hamas captivity. Without military pressure, no one will talk to us. Only from a position of strength can the hostages be released,” he stated.
The minister’s comments about the hostages come at a time of great frustration on the part of the families, who believe that the Government must negotiate and that military pressure has not allowed the release of any captive in almost two months.
Withdraws one of the four divisions deployed in Gaza for rest
The Israeli Armed Forces reported this Monday of the withdrawal of the 36th Army Division, one of the four deployed in the Gaza Strip, to facilitate their rest and training.
This brief withdrawal is part of a long-term war strategy and in anticipation of a possible escalation of the conflict on the border with Lebanon.
This division was in the area of Zeiton, Shati, Shejaya, Rimal – in the north of the Gaza Strip – and in the refugee camps in the center of the Palestinian enclave. “Armored, sapper and infantry companies worked shoulder to shoulder in close battles with the help of artillery and in close collaboration with the Air Force and Navy. They attacked terrorist targets, eliminated hundreds of terrorists and destroyed tens of kilometers of tunnels,” Israel highlighted in a military statement.
The 162nd Division continues in the north of the Gaza Strip in “cleansing” tasks, while the 99th Division is in the center of the enclave and the 98th Division is in Khan Yunis and the south of the territory.
In December, Israel already withdrew five brigades from the Gaza Strip after a reduction in the intensity of fighting in the northern part of the enclave.
The Israeli Armed Forces also reported this Monday that they have begun operating in the Nuseirat area, where they have attacked a school where there were eight Hamas members entrenched who were detained and transferred to Israel for interrogation. A weapons warehouse was located in this area.