Israeli Official Expects War With Hamas To Last Until Year’s End


A top Israeli official says he expects Israel’s war against Hamas to last through the end of the year, amid continued calls for a cease-fire.

“We may have another seven months of fighting to consolidate our success and achieve what we have defined as the destruction of Hamas’s power and military capabilities,” National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told Israeli public radio Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a visit to Moldova, said Israel needed a postwar plan “as soon as possible” and that absence of such a plan could lead to chaos.

“And I think this underscores the imperative of having a plan for the day after because in the absence of a plan for the day after there won’t be a day after,” Blinken told reporters. “If not, Hamas will be left in charge, which is unacceptable. Or if not, we’ll have chaos, lawlessness, and a vacuum.”

The Israeli military said Wednesday three of its soldiers were killed in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where residents reported fresh Israeli attacks and Hamas said it fired rockets at Israeli forces.

The latest attacks come as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said there needs to be a cease-fire in Gaza and access for humanitarian groups to provide aid to Palestinians who are badly in need of help after nearly eight months of war.

“We’re ready to make a difference. We have to have access, and to have access there has to have a cease-fire,” IFRC President Kate Forbes told Reuters.

Speaking also to The Associated Press, Forbes said there are short-term needs to address quickly, such as malnutrition and a lack of adequate sanitation.

“But it’s going to be a marathon in that there’s going to be aid that’s going to be needed for decades to repair Gaza and the people there,” Forbes told The Associated Press.

The United States expressed “deep concern” Tuesday over an apparent Israeli airstrike Sunday that killed at least 45 Palestinians sheltering in a refugee camp in Rafah and wounded 200 others. The U.S. said it has urged Israel to conduct a full investigation.

“Those images were heartbreaking,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.

He said while Israel has a right to go after Hamas, Israel has an obligation to do everything possible to minimize civilian harm while it carries out its operations.

“We will continue to emphasize to Israel their obligation to comply fully with international humanitarian law, minimize the impact of their operations on civilians and maximize the flow of humanitarian assistance to those in need,” Miller said, adding that Israel’s military had promised a swift, comprehensive and transparent investigation.

“We will be watching those results closely,” he said.

Israel’s military said it is looking into the possibility that weapons stored in the area hit by the Israeli strike may have sparked a fire at the refugee camp on Sunday. A military spokesman said Tuesday the munitions used in the strike were too small to set off a big blaze.

The Gaza health ministry said the attack ignited tent fires in an area sheltering displaced people. Israel said it killed two senior Hamas militants in the attack.

“I think this speaks very clearly to the challenge of military airstrikes in densely populated areas of Gaza, including Rafah, because of the risk of civilian casualties,” national security communications adviser John Kirby said of the initial Israeli findings of the fire being caused by a secondary explosion and not the initial strike.

The U.N. Security Council met Tuesday afternoon in a closed session requested by Algeria to discuss the attack. After the meeting, Ambassador Amar Bendjama told reporters that Algeria plans to circulate a draft resolution shortly on Rafah.

“A short text. A decisive text to stop the killing in Rafah,” he said.

The text, seen by VOA, “Decides that Israel, the occupying Power, shall immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in Rafah.” It also demands an immediate cease-fire “respected by all parties” and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Speaking before the meeting, French envoy Nicolas de Riviere told reporters that Israel must stop its operation in accordance with the International Court of Justice ruling, and Palestinian groups must stop rocket attacks on Israel.

“This is a matter of life and death,” he said. “This is a matter of emergency.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement Tuesday that the “relentless violence” must stop and reiterated his call for a humanitarian cease-fire and the unconditional and immediate release of all hostages.

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said Tuesday that more than 940,000 people have fled Rafah in the past three weeks amid Israel’s offensive. Another 100,000 have been displaced by fighting in northern Gaza.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel needs to carry out an offensive in Rafah to achieve its goal of ensuring Hamas cannot operate in Gaza and threaten Israel in the future.

Qatar’s foreign ministry said Monday the attack could complicate efforts to mediate stalled cease-fire talks and the return of the hostages held in Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war was triggered by the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials, and led to the capture of about 250 hostages. Israel’s subsequent counteroffensive has killed more than 36,100 Palestinians, a death toll that includes both civilians and combatants, according to the Gaza health ministry.

White House correspondent Patsy Widakuswara and United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. 


The VOA is the Voice of America

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *