Israel’s Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevi, stated on Tuesday that the ongoing war with Hamas is anticipated to persist for an extended period, emphasizing that determined and persistent efforts are required to dismantle the terrorist organization. Speaking from the Gaza border, Halevi emphasized, “There are no magic solutions, there are no shortcuts in dismantling a terrorist organization, only determined and persistent fighting.”
Incidents outside the Gaza Strip have heightened concerns about the conflict’s potential to spread. The Israeli military intensified actions around Christmas, particularly in a central area just south of the seasonal waterway dividing the Gaza Strip. Despite evacuation orders issued by the Israeli army, many civilians expressed concerns about finding a safe haven.
The United Nations Human Rights Office expressed grave concerns about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces, citing over 100 Palestinian lives lost since Christmas Eve. The office stressed that Israeli forces must uphold international humanitarian law obligations, even with warnings and evacuation orders in place.
Israel remains committed to eradicating Hamas, despite global calls for a ceasefire in the 11-week-old war. Since the deadliest day in Israeli history on October 7, when Hamas killed 1,200 people and captured 240 hostages, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response has led to widespread destruction in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Palestinian health authorities report nearly 21,000 casualties from Israeli strikes, with thousands potentially buried under rubble. The majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced multiple times.
On Tuesday, Gaza authorities buried 80 unidentified Palestinians, and Israel handed over their bodies through the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Growing international pressure, including from the United States, calls on Israel to do more to minimize civilian casualties.
There are emerging signs of the conflict expanding beyond Gaza. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia claimed responsibility for a Red Sea container ship missile attack and an attempted drone attack on Israel. An Israeli airstrike in Syria killed a senior leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, while on the Lebanon border, Hezbollah targeted a church, injuring nine Israeli soldiers and a civilian.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant acknowledged a “multi-front war,” listing theaters of conflict in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran. Despite U.S. pressure to scale down operations, Israel is perceived as a staunch U.S. ally. The U.S. military conducted retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq after a drone attack on a U.S. base in Irbil left one service member critically injured.
Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer discussed the war and hostage return with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington on Tuesday.
In summary, Israel asserts that the conflict with Hamas will extend for months, expressing determination to eliminate the organization despite international calls for a ceasefire. The situation is increasingly complex, with indications of the conflict spreading beyond Gaza, prompting concerns about regional stability.