Israel to increase attacks on Hamas-controlled Gaza 'in the next stages of the war'

Israel to increase attacks on Hamas-controlled Gaza ‘in the next stages of the war’

(As originally published with additional photos, Sat, October 21st 2023, 3:16 PM EDT)

WASHINGTON (TND) — The Associated Press is reporting Israel plans to increase strikes on Gaza very shortly. The news service quoted an Israeli military spokesperson who said the strikes would begin Saturday. The sun has already set on Israel and Gaza, which are seven hours ahead of eastern time in the U.S.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters Saturday night the Israeli military was trying to create optimal conditions before a possible ground invasion into Gaza.

“We will deepen our attacks to minimize the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war,” he said. “We are going to increase the attacks, from today.”

Israel has not yet begun its expected ground offensive to root out the Hamas terrorist group, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years and was responsible for the atrocities in Israel two weeks ago.

Rooting out Hamas won’t be easy. The group’s leaders surround themselves with about 2.3 million Palestinian civilians in densely populated Gaza.

What may be about to take place is a three-stage plan Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant laid out Friday.

It would start with airstrikes and “maneuvering” — a presumed reference to a ground attack —to root out Hamas before a period of lower-intensity mop-up operations.

Then, a new “security regime” would be created in Gaza along with “the removal of Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip,” Gallant said.

He did not say who would run Gaza after Hamas. Israel pulled out back in 2005.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Egypt is hosting dozens of regional leaders and senior Western officials for a summit on the war.

Israel’s friends Egypt and Jordan harshly criticized Israel over its airstrikes on Gaza, but not necessarily about those strikes hurting or killing civilians.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II called Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza “a war crime” and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi warned against the “liquidation of the Palestinian cause,” but el-Sissi also made clear he would not let Gaza Palestinians escape into the Sinai Peninsula.

Last week, Israel urged Palestinian civilians to leave northern Gaza for the south, toward Egypt for their safety, but Egypt is reportedly afraid a massive influx would severely undermine hopes for a Palestinian state.

Egypt also worries a mass exodus would risk bringing terrorists into Sinai, where they might launch attacks on Israel, endangering the peace treaty.

As for Jordan, it hosts the largest number of displaced Palestinians from previous Mideast wars.

Also at the summit was Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the 87 year old whose term was supposed to end with new elections in 2009, which were never held. The P.A. has semi-autonomous control of the West Bank but lost Gaza when Hamas took over.

Abbas called for Israel to stop “its barbaric aggression” in Gaza and warned against attempts to push Palestinians out, saying, “We will not leave, we will not leave, we will not leave, and we will remain in our land.”

Israel declared war on Hamas two weeks ago after the group’s coordinated attacks in southern Israel killed more than 1,400 people, with roughly 200 others captured and taken back to Gaza as hostages.

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Information from The Associated Press was used in this article.

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