Israel has promised to continue full-scale military operations in Gaza if Hamas fails to return hostages before Ramadan.


In a statement by former defense minister, Benny Gantz, the Israeli defense forces will mount all needed pressure for another six to eight weeks on Rafah, except hostages captured during the October 7 attack are returned unharmed.


According to reports, military chiefs believe they can significantly damage Hamas’ remaining capabilities in that time, paving the way for a shift to a lower-intensity phase of targeted airstrikes and special forces operations.


There is little chance that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government will heed international criticism to call off a Rafah ground assault, with defense Minister Yoav Gallant stating that the Rafah operation is targeted at Hamas fighters, command centres and tunnels, with extraordinary measures being taken to avoid civilian casualties.


Trapped between the two sworn enemies are more than a million Palestinian civilians crammed into the Rafah city on the Egyptian border, with nowhere left to run, after fleeing Israeli attacks that have laid waste to much of the enclave.



February 19, 2024

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