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War with Hamas continues, with its end still far off - IDF

War with Hamas continues, with its end still far off - IDF Israel's war with Hamas will continue for a long time (photo: Getty Images)

Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, has stated that despite the withdrawal of all maneuvering ground forces from the Gaza Strip, the war against the Hamas group continues and is far from over, reports The Times of Israel.

According to the IDF chief, the Israeli army will know how to return to combat operations in the event of a temporary ceasefire as part of a hostage release agreement. He said that the return of hostages to Israel is a more urgent issue than other goals.

Halevi noted that Israel is conducting this war differently and that it is different from previous ones.

"The war in Gaza continues, and we are far from stopping. Senior Hamas officials are still in hiding. We will get to them sooner or later. We are making progress, continuing to kill more terrorists and commanders and destroy more terror infrastructures, including last night," Halevi said in a press statement marking the six-month anniversary of Hamas's attack on October 7, 2023.

The IDF chief also noted that Tel Aviv will not allow Hamas brigades to operate in any part of the strip. He said, "We have plans and we will act when we decide."

"At the same time as the offensive effort, we allow the introduction of humanitarian aid into the Strip. The interest of Hamas is to present a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, to press for an end to the war," said Halevi.

He added that Hamas is trying to take control of humanitarian aid and obstruct its distribution to return and control the Gaza Strip. In his opinion, this should not happen.

"Therefore, we continue to dismantle Hamas from its military and governmental capabilities, to bring about… stability to the region," the general added.

Troops have been deployed for an advance on Rafah

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant stated that the goal of withdrawing troops from the Gaza Strip is to prepare for an anticipated advance on the city of Rafah in the southern part of the region.

The Minister of Defense stated that due to military successes, Hamas ceased to function as a military organization throughout the Gaza Strip, but then contradicted himself, noting that the IDF is still preparing to deal with Hamas battalions remaining in Rafah.

Later, Galant's press secretary clarified that the Minister of Defense did not mean the entire Gaza Strip, but rather the area of the city of Khan Yunis and other parts of the sector where military operations were conducted.

"The forces came out [of Gaza] and are preparing for their future missions. We saw examples of such missions in action at Shifa [Hospital], and also for their future mission in the Rafah area. We will reach a situation where Hamas does not control the Gaza Strip and where it does not function as a military framework that poses a risk to the citizens of the State of Israel," Galant added.

Istael-Hamas war

On October 7, 2023, militants of the radical Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip. In the first days of the attack, terrorists killed 1200 civilians and soldiers and kidnapped about 250 Israelis and foreigners.

In response to the invasion, at the end of October, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began a ground military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which is ongoing.

In mid-March, Netanyahu stated that Israel is close to completing the final part of the military operations. According to him, the military operation could be completed in approximately a month or two.

Netanyahu noted that Israel is prepared to fight until complete victory over Hamas and promises to cease fire only after the return of all hostages kidnapped by terrorists.

On the night of April 7, the Israel Defense Forces withdrew almost all of its troops from the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Currently, only one Israeli brigade, Nahal, remains in the region. The withdrawal of troops occurred after four months of continuous fighting in the area of the city of Khan Younis.

The Israeli army is preparing to begin a ground operation in the city of Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Western countries and Egypt have expressed opposition to the offensive, fearing that it will lead to mass casualties among refugees. Netanyahu promised to evacuate 1.4 million civilians from Rafah to humanitarian zones in the central part of the region.