The Israeli military operations intend to eliminate all military infrastructure that could threaten Israel and is not limited to Hamas; in addition, the army has intelligence on the whereabouts of the remaining 137 taken hostage by the militia, Israeli army spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said on Tuesday.
Asked about “terror organizations” other than Hamas, Conricus said at an online press briefing: “Our intention is for there to be no military infrastructure in Gaza that has the ability to threaten Israeli civilians; and that includes Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and then, there are a few other smaller and even more extreme terror organizations that exist: the Resistance Committees, the Palestinian Liberation Front and a few others. It’s not only Hamas.”
He added: “We intend for there to be no existent military structure capable of threatening Israelis. The target, of course, and the big center of gravity is Hamas but our operations are not limited to them. We have been engaged with and eliminated Islamic Jihad operatives and commandos since October 7 quite successfully.”
And highlighted the aim of the Israeli military operation in Gaza: “We intend to continue to do so until they are defeated and again, until we achieve the aim, getting our hostages back, 137 of them, and defeating any military threats that exist and making sure that they won’t have the ability to regroup after the fighting is done.”
On intelligence on the whereabouts of the remaining hostages, Conricus said: “It’s a top priority for Israeli intelligence organizations… The short answer would be yes, we have [data]… I’m not at liberty to share those details because of the sensitivity of the matter and of course that would jeopardize our efforts in the future. But I can say that it is top priority.”
He added: "The short answer would be yes, we have [data]," Conricus said when asked by reporters if the IDF had any information on the purported whereabouts of the remaining hostages. "But as you said, as you correctly suggested, I'm not free to share those details because of the sensitivity of the issue, and of course that would jeopardize our efforts in the future. But I can say that this is a key priority," he added.
He stressed that Israel intends to return all hostages: "If it can be done through negotiations, that's great. And if it can't be done through negotiations, then we will act in other, kinetic ways.”
Earlier, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said that Hamas continues to hold 137 Israelis hostage.
Asked about the possibility of Hamas members having fled to Egypt through Rafah, Conricus said: “This concern exists. It's something the Israeli intelligence is really monitoring. We know that before the war, before October 7, Hamas had an extensive network of tunnels under Gaza, they had attempts to tunnel into Israel as well, and there exists an extensive network of tunnels between Rafah in Gaza and the Egyptian side of Rafah.”
He added: “I don't have up-to-date information on the status of those tunnels, but the working assumption is that at least some of them are open and therefore the risk exists and is one of the things that are monitored by Israeli intelligence.”