Israel expects Gaza war to continue for seven months, says PM’s adviser

Anadolu Palestinians look at smoke as they flee the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (May 28, 2024)anadolu

More than a million Palestinians have fled Rafah since the start of the Israeli military operation in the city three weeks ago

A senior Israeli official has said he expects the war against Hamas in Gaza to continue at least for the rest of this year.

“We expect another seven months of fighting,” the prime minister’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, told Israeli public radio Kan.

He also said that the Israeli army had taken control of 75% of the buffer zone along the Gaza-Egypt border, as it moved forward with an assault on the southern city of Rafah.

Meanwhile, residents of Rafah reported that there had been more Israeli airstrikes and that tanks had made raids in the central and western areas before withdrawing.

A senior World Health Organization (WHO) official also warned that Rafah’s last hospital was barely functioning and that a “full incursion” by Israeli troops could lead to its closure and a “substantial” number of deaths.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Tuesday that troops were operating “very selectively” against the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have fled in the past three weeks.

The US government also said it did not believe “a major ground operation” was underway that would trigger a change in its policy of military aid to Israel.

Israel has insisted it must take Rafah to achieve victory in the war sparked by Hamas’ unprecedented attack on the country on October 7, during which some 1,200 people were killed and 252 others taken hostage.

At least 36,170 people have been killed across Gaza since the start of the conflict, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

The suggestion by Mr Hanegbi – considered a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – that the conflict could continue for at least another seven months will worry many in Israel and beyond.

There has been growing international pressure on Israeli leaders to outline a comprehensive strategy to end the fighting and a compelling post-war vision for the Palestinian territory.

In his interview, Hanegbi also suggested that Israel would soon take full control of the Philadelphia Corridor, a buffer zone, only about 100 meters (330 feet) deep in parts, that runs along the Gaza side of the border. of 13 kilometers (8 miles) with Egypt.

“Within Gaza, the IDF now controls 75% of the Philadelphia Corridor and I believe that over time they will have control of everything,” he said.

The plan, he added, was to work with the Egyptians to “ensure that weapons smuggling is prevented.”

Egypt has denied that weapons are still being smuggled across the border. But the IDF said Tuesday it was demolishing tunnels leading to the Sinai Peninsula.

Residents have said that troops have seized about 9 kilometers of the Philadelphia Corridor, including the Rafah border crossing, since the start of the ground operation in Rafah on May 6.

Troops have also been gradually advancing towards the built-up neighborhoods of Rafah city from the east and south and reportedly reached the central Al Awda roundabout on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, residents told the Reuters news agency that the tanks advanced towards the western areas of Tal al-Sultan and the central areas of Jibna and Shaboura before withdrawing towards positions on the border.

The IDF also announced that three Israeli soldiers were killed in combat in Rafah on Tuesday.

Reuters Israeli tanks wait near the Gaza border (May 29, 2024)Reuters

Israel is under increasing international pressure to devise a comprehensive strategy to end the fighting.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry warned that the Israeli bombardment of Rafah was making it increasingly difficult for patients and health teams to reach the Emirati maternity hospital in Tal al-Sultan.

It came a day after the WHO said the hospital was barely functioning and could no longer accept patients.

“If the raid continued, we would lose that last hospital in Rafah,” warned Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, the agency’s representative for Gaza and the occupied West Bank, in an interview with Reuters and AFP news agencies in Geneva.

With the European Gaza Hospital in the city of Khan Younis inaccessible due to Israeli evacuation orders and fighting on the ground, the estimated 1.9 million people in southern Gaza would be left “dependent on a series of hospitals.” campaign along the coast,” he said.

Dr. Peeperkorn said there was a contingency plan to refer patients to al-Aqsa hospital in the central city of Deir al-Balah and restore services at two other hospitals in Khan Younis that were raided by Israeli forces. But, he added, if there were a “full raid,” the plan “would not prevent what we expect, substantial additional mortality and morbidity.”

According to the WHO, all field hospitals still operating in the Rafah area are overwhelmed by victims and short of supplies.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said on Wednesday it had evacuated the al-Quds field hospital in al-Mawasi, a coastal area just northwest of Rafah.

“This action was taken due to the increased threat level from the Israeli occupation, the continued aerial and artillery bombardment in its surroundings and the complete evacuation of the surrounding residents,” a statement explained.

On Tuesday, Gaza’s Health Ministry said six other medical facilities in Rafah – al-Najjar Hospital, Kuwait Specialized Hospital, Rafah’s two field hospitals, Indonesian field hospital and Abu al Central Clinic -Walid) had been forced to close. .

Al-Najjar hospital, the largest in Rafah, was evacuated at the start of the Israeli operation, while Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) said the smaller Kuwaiti hospital closed “after an Israeli tank attack was of the hospital killed two members of the medical staff” on Monday.

Reuters An injured man is treated at the Emirati hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip (May 29, 2024)Reuters

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Wednesday that patients were having difficulty reaching the barely functional Emirati hospital in Rafah.

Separately, WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris said victims of an Israeli airstrike and subsequent fire at a camp for displaced people in Tal al-Sultan on Sunday had “completely overwhelmed” hospitals. campaign in southern Gaza.

The Health Ministry said at least 45 people died in the incident. Hundreds more were treated for severe burns, fractures and shrapnel wounds.

IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Hagari said Tuesday that a plane had targeted two senior Hamas officials inside a structure away from any tents, using “two munitions with small warheads.”

“Our ammunition alone could not have started a fire of this size,” he said, adding that the military was investigating the possibility that weapons stored by Hamas nearby could have caused a secondary explosion.

On Tuesday, Palestinians accused Israel of bombing tents in al-Mawasi, where it had advised civilians in Rafah to seek safety. But the IDF said it “did not strike in the al-Mawasi humanitarian zone.”

Last week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to “immediately stop its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza living conditions that could lead to their total physical destruction.” or partially.”

Leave a Comment