Israel expects the war in Gaza will go on for “many more months,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi said.
“The war will continue for many more months, and we will operate in various ways – so that the achievement will be preserved over time,” Halevi said in a press conference Tuesday. “There are no magic solutions or shortcuts in the fundamental dismantling of a terrorist organization, except persistent and determined fighting, and we are very, very determined.”
Halevi’s statements come after he visited the Gaza Strip and met with troops in the north, where he said they are “close to completing the dismantling” of Hamas’s battalions.
Israeli soldiers have expanded the ground offensive into refugee camps in central Gaza, claiming the settlements are used by Palestinian militants, despite growing international calls for a more refined approach to the war.
Top U.S. officials have discussed with Israeli officials a transition to more targeted and “surgical operations,” appearing to nudge the country to lessen the civilian casualties of its war against Hamas that has killed more than 20,000 people in Gaza.
There is no established timeframe for Israel to wind down its military campaign, but the Biden administration has pushed for efforts as early as January.
In his press conference, Halevi made no indication that the country would be scaling back its operation, but said the IDF is “focused and precise in its actions” and is using its resources in a “professional, sophisticated, and calculated way.”
Halevi said the IDF will “preserve and intensify” its operation in northern Gaza and will be focusing its efforts in the southern Gaza Strip, particularly Khan Yunis, a town where nearly 2 million Palestinian refugees fled when airstrikes began in the north.
Israel is facing intense criticism for attacking Hamas in dense and urban civilian areas, including hospitals and other healthcare sites. The IDF says the locations are legitimate military targets because Hamas uses them to prepare attacks.
He said the country remains committed to bringing home the remaining hostages taken by Hamas in the initial Oct. 7 surprise attack that left 1,200 Israelis dead.
As someone who served as a combat commander, Halevi said “The battlefield poses complex situations for us, this time even more so. In these situations, we must make difficult decisions, where we, who make those decisions, are responsible for both successes and failures.”
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