Israel expects another year of war against Hamas – media
Fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza could carry on for another year and possibly longer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly told local council chiefs from communities near the Palestinian enclave, according to the Times of Israel, citing a local TV report.
During the meeting, which is said to have been held at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) headquarters in Beersheba and was also attended by other security cabinet ministers, Netanyahu reportedly told the council chiefs that the war against Hamas was expected to continue into 2025.
The prime minister also agreed to revise a defense ministry framework aimed at assisting and encouraging Israeli residents to return to their communities within several kilometers of the Gaza border.
Many of the people living near Gaza fled the region following the October 7 Hamas attack, which left some 1,200 people dead and saw the capture of more than 200 hostages. Local community leaders have reportedly told Netanyahu that most of the residents who left these territories have no desire to return to their homes at this point due to the ongoing fighting between the IDF and Hamas.
According to the TV report, the council chiefs asked Netanyahu to delay the process of returning people to their homes near Gaza until the summer and have also requested that the state continue funding their stay in temporary accommodation until then. Netanyahu accepted the request and instructed relevant officials to make the necessary arrangements.
Meanwhile, the IDF has continued its relentless assault on the Gaza enclave, with Israel vowing to continue the operation until Hamas is completely destroyed and all hostages captured by the Palestinian militants are freed. There are still an estimated 132 people being held captive in Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.
Netanyahu has also recently said that Israel’s main goal is to “demilitarize and deradicalize” the enclave. At the same time, he stressed that Israel has no plans to permanently occupy the enclave or displace its civilian population, adding that the IDF was doing its “utmost” to avoid civilian deaths.
The Israeli strikes on the enclave have so far resulted in more than 23,000 casualties, according to Gaza health officials. The UN has declared Israel’s siege of the enclave a humanitarian catastrophe, while other countries have accused Israel of committing genocide. South Africa has even filed a lawsuit against the country for committing “engaging in genocidal acts” to the UN court.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has vehemently dismissed the genocide accusations, calling them “atrocious and preposterous.” He insisted it was Hamas that should be blamed for the civilian deaths after allegedly using people as human shields.