Israel insists on continuing the war in Gaza after three months of devastation in the enclave

“The war must not stop,” believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after three months of relentless military offensive against the Islamist group Hamas, despite growing international criticism for the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. .

“Three months ago Hamas committed a terrible massacre against us,” Netanyahu said, referring to the Oct. 7 attack by the Islamist group that included the launching of some 3,000 rockets and the simultaneous infiltration of an equal number of militants, who massacred just under 1,200 people and kidnapped another 250 in Israeli towns near the Strip.

“My government ordered the Israel Defense Forces to go to war to eliminate Hamas, free our hostages and ensure that Gaza is never again a threat,” the president added, according to a statement from his office.

“The war must not stop until we achieve all the objectives,” he stressed.

The forceful military offensive by air, land and sea that Israel carries out on the Palestinian enclave has left almost 23,000 dead and more than 58,000 injured, as well as two million displaced people – almost the entire Gazan population – who live in the middle of a unprecedented humanitarian crisis, amid the collapse of hospitals, the outbreak of epidemics, and the shortage of drinking water, food, medicine and electricity.

Military advance

The Israeli Army confirmed that “fighting will continue during 2024,” when reviewing the first three months of war.

“We have completed the dismantling of Hamas structures in the north of the Gaza Strip,” where the Islamist group had “two military brigades with twelve battalions, with a total of 14,000 terrorists,” Daniel Hagari said at a press conference, military spokesperson.

In Jabalia alone, where eight kilometers of tunnels were discovered, Israeli soldiers killed a thousand militiamen, the highest ranking being Ahmed Ran Dur, commander of the northern division, who perished in his bunker with other commanders, 40 meters below land.

“We are now focusing on dismantling Hamas in the center and south” of the enclave, even though the war “has a high price,” Hagari said, referring to the 176 soldiers who have died – several by friendly fire – since that the ground offensive began on October 27.

According to the spokesman, Israeli troops have destroyed 40,000 weapons throughout the Strip, some found inside schools, hospitals, mosques and family homes.

Under pressure

Concerned by the tragic situation of civilians in Gaza, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on an immediate ceasefire, but the United States, Israel’s main partner, vetoed another to the same effect in the Security Council.

Even so, the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Josep Borrell, high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, are on tour in the Middle East to try to de-escalate the conflict and prevent it from spreading further in the region.

The war with Hamas fueled violence on several fronts: the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah intensified hostilities on Israel’s northern border, where there is the worst escalation since the 2006 war; The occupied West Bank is experiencing the deadliest period since the Second Intifada (2000-05); and Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been attacking Red Sea commercial vessels.

“This war should never have started. But it is time for it to end,” said Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, recently.

Beyond international pressure, many Israelis are also demanding a ceasefire through protests in which they demand the rescue of the 107 living hostages still being held in Gaza.

In total, 110 hostages have been released alive, most of them at the end of November during a truce that allowed them to be exchanged for 240 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails. Another 36 hostages lost their lives, of which 25 remain in the Strip.

Netanyahu in check

Another thorny issue is the future and post-war of Gaza: Netanyahu vehemently refuses to allow the Palestinian National Authority, which controls small parts of the occupied West Bank, to interfere in the enclave, despite the fact that that is the American perspective.

Even the most radical right wing of his Government advocates promoting the “emigration” of Gazans to other countries and that Israel resume the policy of settling settlers in the enclave, which it dismantled in 2005.

But the Israeli Ministry of Defense assured on Thursday that Israel will not govern the Gaza Strip once the war has ended, but rather a Palestinian institution will do so – although it did not specify which one – while an international front will rebuild the enclave.

He also assured that “there will be no Israeli civilian presence in the Strip,” although Israel will apparently maintain the blockade by air, land and sea that it has exercised over the enclave since 2007.

Several analysts believe that these measures will lead to the departure of Netanyahu’s far-right anti-Arab partners from the government, while demonstrations demanding new elections increase.

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