February 20, 2024


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Israel to continue full-scale operations in Gaza for at least a month before scaling back war

The Israeli military plans to continue its full-scale operations in Gaza for at least another six weeks before ramping down the conflict, Israeli officials told Reuters.

Four Israeli military officials told the outlet that Israel would adopt a strategy of fewer airstrikes and a greater emphasis on targeted operations. The six-to-eight weeks will likely fall in with Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Rafah, which is poised to begin soon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing intense international pressure to call off the invasion of Rafah, a Gaza border town lying next to Egypt. Even the U.S. has issued warnings that it will not support a campaign in Rafah without Israel presenting a clear plan on how to minimize civilian casualties.

‘Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas control and there remain battalions in Rafah which Israel must dismantle to achieve its goals in this war,’ Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official, told Reuters.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the Israel Defense Forces were planning to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to prevent the loss of civilian life. He also argued that a campaign in Rafah was necessary for destroying Hamas.

‘There were 24 regional battalions in Gaza – we have dismantled 18 of them,’ he told a media briefing. ‘Now, Rafah is the next Hamas center of gravity.’

President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were emphatic about efforts to protect civilians in recent weeks. Blinken met Netanyahu face to face, and Biden called the Israeli leader twice last week alone.

Netanyahu has vowed that the war in Gaza will continue in some capacity until Hamas has been destroyed.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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