Israel's Netanyahu says Gaza war will last 'many months'

AFP , Saturday 30 Dec 2023

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel's war on the Gaza Strip will last "many months."

Netanyahu said the military was involved in a complex fight and needed time to achieve its goals. AP


Vowing to bring home all Israelis still held captive in Gaza, Netanyahu said the military was involved in a "complex fight" and needed time to achieve its goals.

"The war will continue for many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned," Netanyahu told a news conference.

"We will guarantee that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel," he said.

"Step by step we are depriving Hamas of their capabilities... We will also eliminate the leaders."

Israel's war on the Gaza Strip has so far killed at least 21,672 people, most of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Moreover, the war has displaced 1.9 million Palestinians and put 40 percent of the 2.4 million population at risk of famine.

International mediators -- who last month brokered a week-long truce that saw more than 100 captives released and some aid enter Gaza -- continue in their efforts to secure a new pause in Israel's relentless bombardment and ground invasion of the strip.

US news outlet Axios and Israeli website Ynet, both citing unnamed Israeli officials, reported that Qatari mediators had told Israel that Hamas was prepared to resume talks on a new captive release agreement in exchange for a ceasefire.

When asked if a new captive release deal was being negotiated, Netanyahu said Hamas had been "giving all kinds of ultimatums that we didn't accept".

"We are seeing a certain shift (but) I don't want to create an expectation," he said without elaborating.

A Hamas delegation was in Cairo on Friday to discuss an Egyptian plan for renewable ceasefires, a staggered release of Israeli captives for Palestinian prisoners and ultimately an end to the war, sources close to Hamas said.

Hamas seized some 250 hostages during Al-Aqsa Flood operation on 7 October. Some 129 captives are still held in Gaza, according to the Israeli military.

On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators rallied in Tel Aviv, demanding that the government secure their release.

"Bring them home now," the demonstrators chanted, an AFP correspondent reported.

"The scariest thing in Gaza was to be forgotten," said Moran Stela Yanai, one of the captives released during last month's truce.

"The most humane thing that can be done... is to bring everyone back," she told the rally.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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