Conflicts & War

Israel claims it must ‘press ‘harder’ on Gaza offensive as Hamas is ‘falling apart’

Jerusalem, Dec 9 (EFE) – As global pressure mounts for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army and authorities insisted Saturday that they will continue their offensive.

“In recent days we’re seeing terrorists surrender – this is a sign their network is falling apart, a sign we need to press harder,” Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces, Herzi Halevi, said Saturday at a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

A day earlier, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres gave an impassioned speech urging the Security Council to end the war in Gaza, only to be blocked by a US veto on a UN resolution for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

The veto was condemned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised it.

On Saturday Halevi insisted that the army’s achievements are increasing as Israeli forces deepen their ground offensive on the devastated enclave.

Israeli attacks left some 210 Palestinians dead and some 2,300 wounded over the past day, bringing the total death toll since the war began on October 7 to more than 17,700, with nearly 49,000 wounded, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, which said Israel had committed “20 massacres,” including at a school in northern Gaza.

This is in addition to the total collapse of the hospitals in Gaza City and the north, which “have been put out of service by the sieges of the Israeli occupation forces and the attacks in their surroundings,” a spokeswoman for the emergency services of the Palestinian Red Crescent told EFE on Saturday.

“Israeli snipers and troops simply target anyone who tries to move in these areas,” she said. “Neither rescue teams nor ambulances nor humanitarian organizations can do anything because we have no safe access to these areas” because “it is now a military zone.”

She added that the Red Crescent is “receiving dozens of calls these days from areas in Gaza City and northern Gaza, such as Shuja’iyya, Jabalia or Beit Lahia. In these places there are “people trapped in their homes without food or water”, many “elderly or sick people who want to leave, but nothing can be done.”

The United States “has not set a deadline” for the end of the offensive, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi assured on Saturday in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, stressing that no date can be set for the end of the war.

According to him, the campaign is likely to last not only weeks, but even “months.”

Meanwhile, the number of soldiers killed in clashes in Gaza continued to rise, with the army registering 97 soldiers killed since the beginning of the ground offensive a month and a half ago.

Hanegbi explained that he estimates that Israel has killed at least 7,000 Palestinian militiamen so far, and said that the release of captured hostages remains a goal, despite the fact that operations to free them are particularly difficult “because their captors are waiting with their finger on the trigger.”

Above all, he noted that the “military pressure” now being applied could perhaps lead to another temporary cessation of fighting in exchange for the release of the prisoners, of whom an estimated 137 have not been returned, including some fifteen confirmed dead.

Hanegbi also stressed the army’s goal of killing Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, which he said could be a key element in changing the dynamics of the war. EFE jma/ics

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