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24 Nov, 2023 19:28

Short ceasefire, long fight – Israel

The Israeli defense chief has warned that the war with Hamas will drag on for at least another two months when fighting resumes
Short ceasefire, long fight – Israel

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has dashed any hopes of the current ceasefire in Gaza leading to a more lasting peace, saying the war with Hamas will likely drag on for months when the fighting resumes in a few days.

Speaking to members of the Israeli Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit on Thursday, Gallant emphasized that intense fighting will resume following the four-day ceasefire. “This will be a short respite, after which the fighting will continue with intensity, and pressure will be made to bring back more hostages,” he said. “At least two more months of fighting is expected.”

Like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gallant has argued that only intense offensive operations by West Jerusalem’s forces will provide the pressure needed for Hamas to release more of the approximately 240 hostages that it took during its October 7 raids on southern Israeli villages. He told the Shayetet 13 troops that they will need to use the pause in fighting to gear up and plan for future attacks against the Islamist group.

The ceasefire began on Friday morning under a deal that Qatar’s government helped to broker through weeks of negotiations. Hamas initially released 24 hostages, including 13 Israelis, who were reportedly ushered from Gaza into Egypt by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The ceasefire agreement calls for Hamas to exchange 50 Israeli women and children for 150 Palestinians held in Israeli jails during the four-day period.

The temporary halt to fighting also is expected to allow for increased deliveries of food, fuel and other humanitarian aid into besieged Gaza, where more than 14,000 people have been killed since the war began. An estimated 1,200 Israelis were killed during the surprise attacks by Hamas.

Netanyahu, who supported his cabinet’s approval of the ceasefire agreement, vowed on Wednesday to continue the war until Israel achieves its goals of eliminating Hamas and ensuring that the Palestinian enclave no longer poses a security threat.

The Israeli military’s chief of staff, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, echoed the PM’s view on Thursday, saying West Jerusalem is “not ending the war.” During a visit to Gaza, he reportedly told Israeli commanders, “We will continue until we are victorious, going forward and continuing in other Hamas areas.”

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