Israel minister says ‘Hamas is defeated’ but war will continue

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Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz said Wednesday that “Hamas is defeated” as fighting raged on in the Gaza Strip and negotiations towards a truce seemed to falter.

Gantz, a former army chief and defense minister, warned of a long war, saying Israeli forces would have to fight in Hamas-ruled Gaza for years to come.

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More than six months into the war triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, Gantz said, “Victory will come step by step.”

“From a military point of view, Hamas is defeated. Its fighters are eliminated or hiding, its abilities are cut off, and we will continue to fight what remains of it.”

According to Gantz, “boys who are now in middle school will also fight in the future in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank and in the Lebanon front.”

With Israel facing a multi-fronted war with Iran-backed groups in Lebanon and Syria as well as in Gaza, and with violence also surging in the occupied West Bank, Gantz touted Israel’s military capability which he said exceeds that of all of its regional foes.

He told a meeting of his National Unity party in the southern city of Sderot, near the Gaza border, that the army would go back into southern Gaza.

Echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and despite growing international concern, Gantz said, “We will enter Rafah. We will return to Khan Younis,” which Israeli commandos left on Sunday.

Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, is packed with displaced Palestinians and remains the territory’s last city yet to be the target of a ground invasion during the war.

“We will operate in Gaza wherever there are terrorist targets,” Gantz said.

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The October 7 attack that sparked the war resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,482 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

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Gaza health ministry says 33,482 Palestinians killed since October 7

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