War against Hamas will last ‘months more’

Henry

Israel’s army chief warns that the country’s war against Hamas will last “several more months” as the army steps up attacks in the Gaza Strip, where more than 20,000 people are reported to have already been killed.

Concerns about a worsening humanitarian crisis in the besieged region have strengthened calls for an end to hostilities, while incidents linked to Iran-backed groups are raising fears of a wider regional conflict.

The US said it had shot down numerous drones and missiles over the Red Sea fired by Yemeni Houthi rebels.

Israeli leaders maintain that they will continue the attack until Hamas is destroyed – and this country’s army chief, Herzi Halevi, has indicated that there will be no quick end to the war.

“The goals of the war are essential and not easy to achieve,” Halevi said on Tuesday evening.

“That’s why the war will continue for months.”

The war broke out when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,140 people, mostly civilians. This figure is based on Israeli information.

During the attack – the deadliest in Israel’s history – Hamas also took nearly 250 people hostage, with 129 of them still being held in Gaza, according to Israel.

Israel responded with merciless bombing and siege of the Gaza Strip, followed by a ground invasion. The campaign has now claimed the lives of nearly 21,000 people, according to the latest figures from the Hamas-run health department.

Most of Gaza’s nearly 2.4 million residents have been reeling under shortages of water, food, medicine and fuel since the siege, with only limited relief supplies entering the area. An estimated 1.9 million Gaza residents have been displaced, according to figures from the United Nations (UN).

Many displaced people sought shelter in Rafa, a city in the south of the area. Hundreds of them arrived at the Abdul Salam Yassin water company on Tuesday with baskets, handcarts and even a wheelchair packed with bottles to collect clean water.

Elsewhere in the city, people collect firewood whenever possible because the lack of fuel forces them to use wood to cook and stay warm.

In a resolution last week, the UN Security Council called for the “safe and unimpeded delivery of large-scale humanitarian aid”.

The Security Council asked for the appointment of a UN humanitarian coordinator to monitor and verify aid to Gaza. Sigrid Kaag, outgoing Dutch finance minister, was nominated for this position on Tuesday.

The resolution did not call for an immediate suspension of the fighting, and essentially leaves Israel with operational oversight over the delivery of aid.

Big concern

Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israeli army, said yesterday that troops “are fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, in the Khan Yunis area and have extended the attack to the area known as the central camps”.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza on Tuesday, bringing the total to 161 since the ground invasion was launched on October 27, according to the army.

The UN human rights office says it is “deeply concerned about the continued bombardment of central Gaza by Israeli forces”, especially after the army ordered residents to flee to the central and southern areas.

France, a staunch ally of Israel, has also expressed its concern with Israel’s undertaking that it will prolong and intensify fighting.

Violence has also flared up in the occupied West Bank since the war broke out.

An Israeli operation in a refugee camp in the north of the West Bank claimed the lives of six people on Wednesday, the Palestinian health department said.

More than 300 Palestinians in the West Bank have already been killed by Israeli forces since the war broke out, says this department.

Regional conflict

The effects of the war are being felt elsewhere in the region as well, with military groups backed by Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran, stepping up their operations.

US military personnel have shot down numerous attack drones and missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen at ships in the Red Sea. According to the Pentagon, no damage or injuries were reported.

The Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for a missile attack on a vessel in the Red Sea and a drone attack on Israel, the latest attacks in solidarity with Gaza.

Israel’s army says one of its fighter planes intercepted a hostile “air target on its way to Israeli territory”.

In Iraq, the US has launched attacks on pro-Iranian groups that it blames for several attacks on the US and its allies during the Israel-Hamas war. The attacks claimed at least one life, Iranian authorities said.

An anti-tank missile fired by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement wounded nine soldiers, the Israeli military said, while Hezbollah said two of its fighters were killed.

The incidents come after an Israeli attack in Syria that claimed the life of Razi Moussavi, a senior commander in the Quds Force – the foreign branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – on Monday.