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7 Apr, 2024 16:25

Most Hamas battalions in Gaza eliminated – Netanyahu

All but five military divisions have been dismantled by the IDF in the past six months, according to the Israeli prime minister
Most Hamas battalions in Gaza eliminated – Netanyahu

The Israeli military has destroyed 19 of Hamas’ 24 regional battalions in Gaza over the past six months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed.

In a statement ahead of a cabinet meeting on Sunday marking six months since the start of the Gaza war, Netanyahu said Israel was “one step away from victory.”

“Today we mark six months since the war began… We eliminated 19 out of 24 of the Hamas battalions, including their senior commanders. We killed, wounded or captured a significant number of Hamas terrorists... We destroyed their factories manufacturing rockets, weapons, ammunition,” the prime minister said.

The conflict kicked off on October 7 last year with a surprise Hamas raid that claimed the lives of an estimated 1,200 Israelis and saw the capture of more than 200 hostages. Netanyahu promptly declared war on the militant group and vowed to eradicate it. As a result, due to the density of Gaza’s population, over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on the enclave in the following months, with much of the area razed to the ground.

In his statement, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel needs to continue fighting until all Hamas militants are eliminated. He noted that Hamas still holds 133 Israeli citizens hostage, and stressed that there will be no talk of a ceasefire until all of them are freed.

“There is no war more just than this war, and we are determined to finish it with complete victory. To return all those who were abducted, complete the elimination of Hamas in the entire Gaza Strip, including Rafah, and ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” he stated.

Israeli and Hamas delegations held ceasefire negotiations brokered by Egypt and Qatar on Sunday in Cairo. According to a report on Al Arabiya TV channel, Hamas’ demands included Israel dropping plans to persecute and eliminate its leaders once the fighting in Gaza stops, as well as a lasting ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Netanyahu called these demands “extreme” and said Israel will not “surrender to them,” as, according to him, they may “endanger our citizens and our soldiers” in the future.

Netanyahu’s refusal to strike an agreement with Hamas and thus secure the release of hostages has been brewing discontent among Israelis. Tens of thousands of demonstrators staged a protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to demand Netanyahu’s resignation and for a deal to be reached with the Palestinian militants.

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