Israeli forces on patrol in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 3, 2024. Credit: IDF.
The Israel Defense Forces’ operation against Hamas in Khan Yunis is “progressing and achieving its goals,” and troops will soon push further south to Rafah, the terror group’s last remaining stronghold in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signaled on Monday.
“Our forces operate on the ground in most of the territory of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant told reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv, adding: “18 Hamas battalions are dismantled. … About half of the Hamas terrorists have been killed or seriously wounded.”
“The forces are moving with courage and professionalism in the tunnels that were once the safest place for the terrorists, and now we are increasing the pressure on the terrorists and the leaders of the terrorist organizations,” he continued, according to Hebrew reports.
Israeli intelligence suggests that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is preoccupied with his own survival and no longer commands the terror group, stated Gallant, adding that the IDF “continues to pursue him.”
One of the masterminds of the Oct. 7 massacre, along with the leader of Hamas’s “military wing” Mohammed Deif, Sinwar is believed to be hiding in southern Gaza, where he has reportedly surrounded themselves with a large number of living Israeli hostages.
“Every terrorist hiding in Rafah should know that his end will be like those in Khan Younis, Gaza [City] or any other place in the Gaza Strip—surrender or death, there is no third choice,” Gallant warned.
Speaking to soldiers at the IDF Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum in Latrun, west of Jerusalem, earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a “mortal blow against the axis of evil: Iran, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and, of course, Hamas.”
“Total victory is essential because it ensures the security of Israel. Total victory is the only way in which we can ensure additional historic peace agreements, which await,” said the premier.
“One need only to think of what would happen without total victory: The displaced will not return, the next massacre will only be a matter of time, and Iran, Hezbollah and others will simply celebrate here and destroy the Middle East,” he continued.
The Israeli government will not stop the war “without achieving this goal of total victory, which will restore security to both the south and the north,” Netanyahu vowed.