Netanyahu sees end of ground offensive against Hamas


Lerato Khumalo

Netanyahu seems to see an end to the ground offensive. An Iranian general is threatening Israel with another rocket attack. More information in the news blog.

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06.29 am: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the main phase of the war against the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip is coming to an end. “We are moving towards the end of the phase of destroying the Hamas terror army,” he said in Jerusalem at a reception for cadets of the National Defense Academy. “We will continue to fight its remnants.”

Netanyahu had previously visited the Gaza Division, which is currently deployed in the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. He said he had seen “very considerable progress” there. The offensive in Rafah on the border with Egypt is aimed at destroying the last major Hamas fighting units. However, the Islamist militia remains militarily active in the form of smaller troops.

The end of the ground offensive would not necessarily mean an end to Israel’s military involvement in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu and senior military officials have often pointed out that Israeli troops would remain at strategic locations in the sealed-off coastal area even after the phase of intensive fighting. This would primarily include the so-called Philadelphia Corridor, a 14-kilometer-long, narrow strip that runs along the border with Egypt near Rafah on the Gaza side.

8.10 p.m.: A high-ranking Iranian general is threatening arch-enemy Israel with a massive new missile attack. According to state media, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s air force, used harsh words at an event in Tehran.

A few months ago, both countries were on the brink of a major regional war. The Revolutionary Guards fired hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel in an operation called “Sincere Promise” on April 13.

Hajizadeh now says he hopes for the opportunity for a second such operation. “I don’t know how many rockets will be needed for that,” he adds. The threat is likely to be linked to the recent tensions between Israel and Lebanon. Just last weekend, the Iranian UN mission threatened a “devastating war” in the event of an escalation between Israel and the Hezbollah militia.

11.44 am: According to the Hamas-run health authority, two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli operation in the West Bank. A woman and a boy were killed in the city of Tulkarm, the authority said. Israeli forces carried out a drone attack in Tulkarm on Sunday, killing a member of the militant group “Islamic Jihad”.

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People search for survivors in the rubble of a house destroyed by the drone attack. (Source: IMAGO/Nasser Ishtayeh / SOPA Images/imago-images-bilder)

11.33 am: According to its army, Israel was attacked by around 20 rockets from the Gaza Strip. Some were intercepted by the missile defense system, others hit open terrain. There were no injuries, the army stressed. In places near the border with the Gaza Strip, there was an air raid warning and people had to rush to shelters within minutes.

Israeli media are talking about one of the most violent attacks in some time. The army says the rocket launch sites were fired upon by Israeli artillery. The reports could not be independently verified at this time.

6.59 am: The Israeli army has continued its ground offensive in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City for the fourth day in a row. “This is a difficult battle that is being fought above ground, sometimes in close combat, and also underground,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a statement from his office.

The Israeli armed forces are engaged in the war against the radical Islamic Hamas in Rafah, Shujaiya and throughout the Gaza Strip, the Prime Minister stressed. His office stated that “dozens of terrorists are eliminated” every day.