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1 Jan, 2024 18:32

War in Gaza won’t end in 2024 – Israel

West Jerusalem has refused to entertain international calls for a ceasefire in the besieged enclave
War in Gaza won’t end in 2024 – Israel

Israel will continue to wage war in Gaza throughout 2024, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a statement on Sunday. Describing a strategic shift to what he called the “smart” management of IDF troops, Hagari revealed that five reservist brigades were being taken out of combat, supposedly to reinvigorate the Israeli economy as the country settles in for a prolonged conflict.

The goals of the war require lengthy fighting, and we are prepared accordingly,” he said, explaining that sending the reservists back home “will result in considerable relief for the economy, and will allow them to gain strength for operations next year, and the fighting will continue and we will need them.” 

The IDF spokesman’s prediction followed similar comments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who warned during a press conference on Saturday that “many more months” of fighting still lay ahead. 

The government has categorically rejected international pleas for a ceasefire amid the mounting death toll in Gaza, where its AI-enhanced bombing campaign has resulted in over 21,800 Palestinian deaths since Hamas’ October 7 surprise attack, according to the enclave’s health ministry. Another 56,000 have been seriously wounded, and 85% of the enclave’s approximately 2.3 million residents have been displaced.

The US has consistently stood by Israel throughout the current stage of the conflict, including by vetoing UN Security Council resolutions demanding a ceasefire. However, even Washington has clashed with its Middle Eastern ally over Gaza's future. Netanyahu has said the territory will remain under Israeli control after the war, while the US has called for it to be run by the Palestinian Authority as a step towards a two-state solution; the organization governs the West Bank and previously oversaw Gaza before Hamas took power following elections in 2007. 

The Israeli government vehemently opposes Palestinian statehood, to the point that Netanyahu has openly boasted of his role in preventing it during several rounds of peace talks over the years. 

On Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich suggested that the government “encourage migration” of Palestinians out of Gaza and reestablish the Jewish settlements that were dismantled there in 2005. In an interview with Army Radio, he observed that “the entire discussion about ‘the day after’ would be completely different” if 90% of the enclave’s Arab inhabitants would just ethnically cleanse themselves. 

While an official with Netanyahu’s office subsequently told the Associated Press that “contrary to false allegations, Israel does not seek to displace the population in Gaza,” but merely looks to “enable those individuals who wish to leave to do so,” a government document leaked last month called for the mass relocation of all of the territory’s residents to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula - a plan that alarmed Palestinians and Egyptians alike.

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