Israel’s mission in this war is to destroy Hamas, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office told reporters on Sunday.
“Our goal is to dismantle Hamas, the world’s third-largest terrorist organization, not to deter Hamas, not to degrade Hamas, not to contain Hamas,” PMO spokesperson Tal Heinrich said during a press briefing.
The briefing came as sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and elsewhere in Israel’s central region on Sunday afternoon during Hamas’s latest rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip. It was the ninth day in a row that terrorists targeted central Israel.
Other cities impacted by the rocket attack included Ramat Hasharon and Herzliya. The Magen David Adom emergency service said no casualties had been reported.
More than 6,600 rockets have been fired at Israel since Oct. 7.
In contrast to Hamas, Heinrich stressed that Israel seeks to avoid civilian casualties and has been urging Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip to move south and evacuate the combat zone.
“Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people,” Henrich said. “We do not want civilians in harm’s way. And we’re taking significant measures to prevent it. We gave Palestinian civilians more than 24 hours to evacuate through routes that the IDF had designated.”
She noted that Israel has seen “clear evidence” that Hamas terrorists are preventing civilians from reaching the safer zones, “including by setting up roadblocks.
“Hamas has also threatened Gazans who are attempting to move south. This is a deliberate effort by Hamas to increase civilian casualties. Hamas is clearly forcing the Palestinian people to be part of this war. And they repeatedly use them as human shields,” Heinrich said.
The newest numbers provided at the press briefing raised the death toll from last Saturday’s massacre to more than 1,400, with more than 3,500 wounded, including 286 slain soldiers.
More than 120 Israelis were abducted to Gaza.
Heinrich said that those who wanted to help Israel should urge their elected representatives “to support Israel’s unequivocal demand to release those who were abducted, unconditionally.”
JNS asked whether Israel will create a situation following hostilities where the IDF reserves the right to enter the Gaza Strip to combat terrorism, as is the case in Judea and Samaria.
“We’re not talking policy of this kind right now,” Heinrich said. “Our focus is, first and foremost, on winning this war. This is a war that was forced upon us.
“All of our efforts right now, the national effort in the homefront and on the front lines, is dedicated to one thing alone. It’s a national effort at every level …, but also we want to make sure that by the end of this war in Gaza right now, they will also lack the motivation to do what they did to us. They will never hurt us again like they did, not in the next decades.”