Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza: Israeli response to the Gaza Strip, and human rights activists’ call for a cease-fire
“Once we defeat Hamas, we have to make sure that there’s no new Hamas, no resurgence of terrorism, and right now the only force that is able to secure that is Israel,” Netanyahu said.
But the interview with Morning Edition’s Steve Inskeep was notable for what the prime minister did not say: who he thinks should govern the territory with a population of 2.3 million, now devastated by six weeks of Israeli bombing.
According to Gazan health officials, more than 11,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s military campaign. Israeli officials say that the loss of lives has been caused by Hamas hiding its fortifications inside civilian areas like Al-Shifa.
Before October 7, Israel had followed a policy of allowing Hamas to govern Gaza so that Israel would not have to. Israel now says Hamas cannot be allowed to rule.
It’s unclear who would replace Hamas in the seat of government. The leader of the Palestinian Authority said he was not interested, and Israel doesn’t want that either.
Netanyahu said the situation in Gaza was similar to the occupation of Germany and Japan by the Allies after World War II for administrative and rehabilitative purposes.
The World Health Organization had said before the raid on Al-Shifa that it was no longer a functional hospital. Officials described desperate conditions: Food, medicine and anesthetics had all but run out, and generators and lifesaving equipment had been shut down because of a lack of fuel. They said that some three dozen premature babies were at particular risk.
Hamas has denied that it has a command center underneath its headquarters. The Israeli military said it found weapons and equipment at the scene of the complex, as well as the bodies of two hostages. They have not been confirmed.
Weapons, bombs, and a major command center was found by troops in the hospital, according to Netanyahu. The troops brought Arabic-speaking doctors and incubators with them as they moved in.
The Geneva Conventions protect hospitals during war, but the safeguards are not absolute. Netanyahu says that a cease-fire cannot happen until all hostages are released, and that’s why human rights groups call for it.
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Israeli soldiers from the Seventh Brigade escorted journalists to see a stone-and-concrete shaft on the grounds of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Thursday.
But Col. Elad Tsury, commander of Israel’s Seventh Brigade, said Israeli forces, fearing booby traps, had not ventured down the shaft at the hospital, Al-Shifa. He said it had been discovered earlier in the day under a pile of sand on the northern perimeter of the complex.
In the darkness, it was unclear where the shaft led or how deep it went, although the military said it had sent a drone down at least several meters. Electrical wiring was visible inside, along with a metal staircase.
He stated that they found a lot of weapons. We found a lot of bullets. We found bombs. On level minus two, a command and control center of Hamas was found.
Two reporters and a photographer from The Times were required to stay with Israeli troops in Gaza during their visit in order to enter the area. Most soldiers were not agreed to have their faces, landmarks, maps, and weapons photographed. The Times did not allow Israeli military to screen its coverage before it was published.
Colonel Tsury said the military had provided food, supplies and medical equipment to patients and doctors, an assertion that could not be immediately verified.
The extent of damage to the hospital was not clear. The main emergency building was undamaged with electricity, after it had been besieged for days by health officials.
Gunfire rattled nearby throughout The Times’s visit, giving the impression of ongoing gun battles in nearby streets. Special forces officers escorted journalists through the remains of a bombed-out building at the outskirts of the hospital grounds, but told them it was too dangerous to pass through the main gate.
The destruction away from the hospital made parts of Gaza look very different. The city had been leveled by shelling, the seafront promenade had been destroyed and apartment blocks had been destroyed. The main coastal road was churned into a bumpy dirt track by constant tank traffic.
U.S. military officials said their Israeli counterparts tell them to expect more weeks of clearing operations in the north before Israel prepares a separate initiative in southern Gaza, widening the offensive.
The chief spokesman of the Israeli military said late Friday night that their troops would continue their fight against Hamas in every part of the strip, and in the south of it.
The statements made by the Israeli defense minister raised a lot of questions, military analysts said.
How will Hamas be eliminated if its fighters blend into the rest of the population as they head south? How long can Israel, which lost about 1,200 people in the Oct. 7 atrocities, sustain growing international pressure for a cease-fire as civilian casualties in Gaza mount? Was Al-Shi Fa an important target to raid immediately?