Israel expects the war in Gaza to continue for “several more months,” said Herzi Halevi, Israeli army chief of staff.
“The war will continue for many more months and we will operate in various ways, so that the gains are preserved over time,” Halevi said at a press conference on Tuesday. “There is no magic solution or shortcut to the fundamental dismantling of a terrorist organization other than persistent and determined fighting, and we are very, very determined. »
Halevi’s statements came after his visit to the Gaza Strip and meeting with troops in the north, where he said they were “on the verge of completing the dismantling” of Hamas battalions.
Israeli soldiers have expanded their ground offensive to refugee camps in central Gaza, saying the settlements are being used by Palestinian militants, despite growing international calls for a more refined approach to the war.
Senior U.S. officials have discussed with Israeli officials a transition to more targeted “surgical operations,” appearing to prompt the country to reduce civilian casualties from its war against Hamas, which has killed more than 20,000 people in Gaza.
There is no set timetable for Israel to end its military campaign, but the Biden administration has insisted that efforts begin as early as January.
During his press conference, Halevi gave no indication that the country would scale back its operations, but he said the Israeli military is “focused and precise in its actions” and uses its resources in a “professional manner.” , sophisticated and calculated.
Halevi said the army would “preserve and intensify” its operations in northern Gaza and focus its efforts in the southern Gaza Strip, particularly in Khan Yunis, a city where nearly 2 million Palestinian refugees have fled. when airstrikes began in the north.
Israel faces intense criticism for attacking Hamas in dense civilian and urban areas, including hospitals and other health care sites. The Israeli military says these locations are legitimate military targets because Hamas uses them to plan attacks.
He said the country remained committed to repatriating the remaining hostages taken by Hamas during the first surprise attack on October 7 that left 1,200 Israelis dead.
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 these decisions, are responsible for both successes and failures.
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