Israel has moved into the third phase of the war against the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip and will continue to expand the ground military operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
“We are in the midst of a war. We have set a clear goal: to destroy Hamas’ military and managerial capacity. We are doing this systematically. The initial phase of the blockade has been completed. The second phase is the ever-ongoing air attacks. The third phase is the expansion of ground penetration into the Gaza Strip”, Netanyahu said at a press conference.
He said one of the goals of the ground operation is the release of hostages. Netanyahu promised that Israel will send the militants into a “knockdown” and Hamas “will be defeated”. The Israeli prime minister also assured that “there will be another Gaza”.
Netanyahu noted that if Israel does not destroy Hamas, “the axis of evil will be defeated” and both Western countries and the entire Arab world will lose.
In addition, Netanyahu addressed the Lebanese group Hezbollah, warning that it “will make the mistake of a lifetime if it decides to fully intervene”. “You will receive a blow you can’t even imagine”, Netanyahu said, adding that Israel is working to strengthen the northern border.
Netanyahu announced the start of the second phase of the war against Hamas on Oct. 28. At the same time, the Israeli army moved to ground battles in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu called the goal of the second stage the destruction of the Palestinian movement’s infrastructure and the release of hostages.
However, as The New York Times wrote, the U.S. convinced Israel to abandon a full-scale offensive on Gaza in favor of “more limited” operations.
Israeli Defense Ministry chief Yoav Galant had previously predicted three phases of war with Hamas. The first phase was to include airstrikes along with “ground operations”, the second was to eliminate “pockets of resistance,” and the third phase was to create a “new security regime” in the Gaza Strip.
The war between Israel and Hamas has been ongoing since Oct. 7, when the Palestinian group attacked Israeli territory, took hostages and killed at least 1,400 people. Israel’s retaliatory operation, which includes rocket attacks on the Gaza Strip, has already killed more than 8,000 people, 70% of whom, according to the UN, are women and children.