Israel foresees months-long Gaza conflict amid rising regional tensions

Israel’s military chief, Herzi Halevi, declared Tuesday that the country’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza is expected to last several months. This statement comes amid escalating tensions and incidents beyond Gaza’s borders, suggesting a potential widening of the conflict.

In a televised address near the Gaza border, Halevi stated, “Dismantling a terrorist organization requires determined and persistent fighting. We will eventually target Hamas’ leadership, irrespective of the time it takes.”

Israeli military activities have intensified since Christmas, particularly in central Gaza. Civilians have been urged to evacuate, though many express concerns about the lack of safe havens.

Seif Magango, spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Office, expressed grave concerns on Tuesday regarding the ongoing Israeli bombardment in Middle Gaza, which has resulted in over 100 Palestinian casualties since Christmas Eve. Magango emphasized that Israeli forces are obligated to protect civilians under international humanitarian law.

Despite international calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains committed to a military strategy aimed at dismantling Hamas. This follows a significant attack by Hamas on October 7, resulting in 1,200 deaths and 240 hostages, marking one of the deadliest days in Israeli history.

Palestinian health officials report nearly 21,000 casualties due to Israeli strikes, with thousands potentially trapped under debris. Gaza’s 2.3 million residents face widespread displacement, many for multiple times.

On Tuesday, Gaza health authorities interred 80 unidentified Palestinians, with bodies transferred by Israel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.