Israeli Defense minister threatens Gaza Palestinians 'If you value life, head south'

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Oct 2023

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited southern Israel on Thursday and told troops stationed on the Gaza border that they are focused on "defeating Hamas" as the Israeli army has killed at least 3,785 Palestinian civilians in round-the-clock bombardments on the Gaza Strip since a Hamas attack a little over a week ago.

Israel Defense Minister
Israel s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, wearing a protective vest, speaks with Israeli soldiers in a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. AP

"We are first and foremost focused on... defeating Hamas," Gallant said. "I have been leading soldiers into battles for 45 years. I am responsible for security. I was responsible for it these last two weeks - even during difficult times, I am responsible for bringing [Israel] to victory," adding that they were preparing for a "prolonged campaign" with Hamas.

"We are not talking about a short [military] campaign – we are talking about a prolonged campaign."

Separately, Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz toured the western Negev and visited the Gaza border communities of Be'eri, Kfar Azza, and Mefalsim.

The minister, apparently addressing Gaza Palestinians, blamed Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and military wing commander Mohamad Deif for the ongoing onslaught of innocent civilians, threatening Gaza's residents, "If you value life, move south."

The movements came days after Tuesday, an Israeli air strike on a Gaza hospital compound killed more than 470 Palestinian civilians. The Baptist hospital in Gaza City housed displaced people seeking shelter from near-constant air strikes on the coastal territory.

Israel has been carrying out a brutal war on Gaza after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel in an unprecedented attack on October 7, killing at least 1400 people.

Israel has since imposed a complete siege on Gaza, stopping water, food and electricity from reaching about 2.3 million Palestinians.

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