Israel reminds US: Gaza war won’t end until Hamas defeated

Israeli DM emphasizes the importance of US leadership and international pressure to enabling the return of the remaining hostages being held by Hamas.

By Joshua Marks | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 28, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 28, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told his American counterpart in a call overnight Wednesday that the IDF will continue its mission in Gaza until Hamas is defeated and the hostages returned.

According to a Defense Ministry statement, Gallant briefed Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin on the military’s achievement in destroying “dozens of kilometers” of Hamas tunnels across the coastal enclave.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (left) meets with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Israel on Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni (Israeli Ministry of Defense).

“During his briefing, the minister reiterated the defense establishment’s determination to continue operating until the removal of this threat, the destruction of Hamas battalions, the elimination of Hamas leadership and return of hostages,” according to the readout of the call.

Barring a deal to return the remaining 134 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza, Israeli forces are preparing to enter the last Hamas stronghold of Rafah to destroy the terror group’s final four battalions, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated is vital to Israel achieving its war goals.

“In discussing the hostage crisis, Minister Gallant emphasized the importance of US leadership and international pressure to achieving a framework that will enable the return of hostages,” the statement added.

Israeli ground troops continue to operate throughout the Gaza Strip, killing terrorists in Khan Yunis and the Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitoun, the IDF said on Thursday.

A major aerial and ground offensive in the district began early last week, where in the past 24 hours soldiers destroyed tunnel shafts, located many weapons and five rocket-launching pits.

Zeitoun is being cleared of terrorists ahead of a pilot program for local authorities to replace the Hamas terrorist group in governing Gaza and to end incitement in the educational system.

Overnight Tuesday, Israeli Air Force jets struck eight “significant” Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip in response to renewed rocket fire on the southern city of Ashkelon. In one of those rocket attacks, a parked car was hit, causing damage but no injuries, according to authorities.

IDF Paratroopers operating in western Khan Yunis continue to raid terrorist infrastructure, eliminating “many” Hamas operatives in face-to-face fighting.

At the same time, members of the 7th Brigade raided buildings in the area, locating weapons and other terror equipment.

IAF planes, operating under the guidance of the 98th Division’s fire center, attacked a Hamas squad preparing to ambush Israeli forces in Khan Yunis. According to the IDF, a secondary explosion that followed “testified to the many weapons they possessed.”

Meanwhile, troops of the IDF’s 162nd Division and Nahal Brigade killed “a number of terrorists” in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood over the past day.

Two more Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, bringing the total number of IDF casualties to 582, the military announced on Wednesday morning. Maj. Iftah Shahar, 25, from Moshav Paran in southern Israel, and Capt. Itai Seif, 26, from Yeruham, fell in battle in the northern Strip.

Additionally, seven soldiers of the 432nd Battalion were seriously wounded while fighting in northern Gaza. The IDF said they were evacuated for medical treatment and their families informed.

 

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