War With Hamas Will Last Several Months: Israel Tells US

Netanyahu rejects the two-state solution Washington is insisting upon. Israel’s defence minister warned Thursday the war with Hamas would

War With Hamas Will Last Several Months: Israel Tells US

Netanyahu rejects the two-state solution Washington is insisting upon.

Israel’s defence minister warned Thursday the war with Hamas would last “more than several months” as he met a top US official amid a rift between the allies over mounting civilian casualties.

The war, now in its third month, began after the Palestinian group’s unprecedented October 7 attacks on Israel that Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched an unrelenting military offensive that has left swathes of Gaza in ruins. The health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said 18,787 people have been killed, mostly women and children.

In Gaza’s southern city of Khan Yunis, smoke rose from a grey landscape of rubble which people combed with shovels and their bare hands after a strike. One man sat on the broken concrete, wiping his eyes.

“Around four people are still stuck under the rubble” after an airplane hit the building “without a warning”, said Hassan Bayyout, 70.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan arrived in Tel Aviv on Thursday and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

In their meeting, Gallant warned that Israel’s fight with Hamas “will require a period of time — it will last more than several months, but we will win and we will destroy them”.

Ahead of his trip, Sullivan had told a Wall Street Journal event he would discuss a timetable to end the war and urge Israeli leaders “to move to a different phase from the kind of high-intensity operations that we see today”.

US President Joe Biden, whose government has provided Israel with billions of dollars in military aid, delivered his sharpest rebuke of the war this week. He said Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza was eroding international support.

– ‘Darkest chapter’ –

But Netanyahu vowed to carry on “until victory” and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the war would continue “with or without international support”.

The Israeli prime minister has said there is also “disagreement” with Washington over how Gaza would be governed after the war.

Netanyahu rejects the two-state solution Washington is insisting upon.

Qatar-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday that “any arrangement in Gaza or in the Palestinian cause without Hamas or the resistance factions is a delusion”.

This week, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly supported a non-binding resolution for a ceasefire, which Washington voted against.

The United Nations estimates 1.9 million out of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have been displaced.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, said on Wednesday that Gazans were “facing the darkest chapter of their history”.

He said they are “now crammed into less than one-third” of the territory, and hinted there could be an exodus to Egypt, “especially when the border is so close”.

– Hospital a focus –

Cold wintry rain has lashed the makeshift tents where the homeless struggle to survive without sufficient food, drinking water, medicines or cooking fuel, with diseases spreading.

After a strike in Rafah, where many Palestinians have fled, the faces of relatives were contorted in grief after they identified the body of a child, Muhannad Ashour, at Najjar hospital.

Despite the needs, aid distribution has largely stopped in most of Gaza, except on a limited basis in the Rafah area, the UN says.

COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said the military “is enabling tactical pauses for humanitarian purposes”. One was taking place Thursday for four hours in a Rafah neighbourhood to allow civilians to restock supplies such as food and water, it said.

Fewer than one-third of Gaza’s hospitals are partly functioning, the UN says, and the World Health Organization expressed its concern about an Israeli raid on Kamal Adwan hospital in north Gaza.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said Wednesday that the hospital director and about 70 other medical staff “remain detained in an unknown location outside of the hospital”.

It said Israeli forces had released five doctors and female staff but there were reports of “ill-treatment” of those who had been held.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry said Israeli forces had “fired at patient rooms”. AFP was unable to confirm the situation independently.

On Thursday the army said that, during military activity in the hospital area, “over 70 terrorist operatives came out of the hospital with weapons in hand”.

It said troops killed “a number” of militants during fighting in the area.

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using hospitals, schools, mosques and vast tunnel systems beneath them as military bases — charges it denies.

– Cross-border fire –

Israeli tanks shelled Gaza from southern Israel on Thursday.

Militants have continued to fire rockets from Gaza towards Israeli territory.

The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli forces killed 11 people in the occupied West Bank since launching a raid in Jenin and its refugee camp on Tuesday. The army says it has seized weapons, dismantled explosives laboratories, tunnel shafts and other military facilities.

The war has led to increased popular support for Hamas in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

In Israel, the army is coming under growing pressure to limit troop deaths — it says 116 have been killed in Gaza — and secure the release of remaining hostages.

Israeli authorities say 118 hostages are still believed to be alive in Gaza after their capture by militants on October 7. Some were released during an exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long truce that ended on December 1.

The Israeli military said fighter jets on Thursday struck infrastructure and compounds of Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, after a munition was launched towards northern Israel.

Israeli forces and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, have engaged in regular exchanges of fire since the Israel-Hamas war began.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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