Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday night that the military is moving to “full offense” in the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“We have released all restraints, regained control of the [border]area and are moving to full offense,” Gallant told troops during a visit to the south.
“You will have the ability to change reality here. You have seen the prices paid. Hamas wanted a change in Gaza. It will change 180 degrees from what it thought,” the minister said. “They will regret this moment. Gaza will never return to what it was. Whoever comes to decapitate, murder women, Holocaust survivors—we will eliminate them with all our might and without compromise.”
The Israel Defense Forces continued to pound Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, as the war sparked by the Palestinian terrorist group’s brutal Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state entered its fourth day.
The military said it struck the shaft of an underground tunnel and other assets used by Hamas to penetrate Israeli territory on Saturday and indiscriminately butcher at least 900 Israeli men, women and children.
Israel Air Force fighter jets also struck a mosque containing a Hamas operations-and-command center used to coordinate this weekend’s Iranian-backed attack, in addition to “widespread” strikes against weapons depots and other terror infrastructure.
The military struck more than 200 sites in Gaza overnight on Monday, including at least one Palestinian Islamic Jihad asset, the IDF stated.
The IDF on Tuesday released the names of an additional 38 soldiers killed fighting Hamas, bringing the confirmed military death toll to 123.
Meanwhile, Hamas on Tuesday continued to bombard Israeli population centers with rockets after at least seven Israelis sustained injuries the previous afternoon amid a barrage of projectiles fired across the south and center of the country, including the Jerusalem area.
Israeli Army Radio reported on Tuesday that the IDF is set to inform more than 100 Israeli families that their loved ones are being held hostage in Gaza.
Hamas has claimed to have captured 163 Israelis and taken them back to the Strip during the Oct. 7 terror raid.
An Israeli official denied on Monday that Jerusalem was negotiating, via Qatar, for the release of the hostages. A senior official later confirmed to JNS that Israel is not involved in any kind of talks related to the release of captives.
‘A complete situational picture’
IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, tapped by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as coordinator for captives and the missing, told Israelis on Monday that he will do everything to return their loved ones to them.
“During these hours, we are engaged in the formation of a complete situational picture,” he said. He added that his team is working as quickly as possible to address families’ concerns.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday night confirmed that at least 11 Americans were killed during the Hamas attack, with others still unaccounted for and possibly being held in Gaza.
Israeli forces on Monday regained control of all the communities near the Gaza Strip after two days of fighting.
“We are in control of the ‘Gaza envelope’ communities,” said IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari. He warned, however, that there were still terrorists in the area, and Israel remains concerned over possible infiltration attempts via tunnels emanating from Gaza.
Hagari added that the military had called up 300,000 reservists during the past 48 hours.
On Tuesday, Hagari said the military regained control of the Gaza border after Palestinian terrorists blew up sections of the security fence during the invasion Saturday morning.
“In the last day, not a single terrorist entered via the fence,” he said.
Gallant on Monday ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza, as the IDF ramped up its offensive.
“There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel; everything is closed,” Gallant stated, following a situation assessment at the IDF Southern Command in Beersheva.
“We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly,” the defense minister added.
‘Support Israel in words and deeds’
Also on Monday, six Israelis were wounded fending off an infiltration along the northern border with Lebanon, amid fears Hezbollah could enter the war.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the cross-border attack in a statement posted on Telegram.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday evening published a message to the international community, urging countries to support the Jewish state as it moves to eliminate Palestinian terror threats.
“As president of the State of Israel, I speak to you now from our capital city Jerusalem under the dark shadow of war, as my nation continues to endure a savage attack from a cruel and inhumane enemy,” said Herzog.
“To my mind, not since the Holocaust have so many Jews been killed in one day. And not since the Holocaust have we witnessed scenes of Jewish women and children, grandparents—even Holocaust survivors—being herded into trucks and taken into captivity,” he said.
“First, most importantly, make clear and loud condemnations of Hamas’s actions, just as you condemned the abhorrent and unspeakable actions of ISIS,” Herzog said. “Because today, they are one and the same.”
Secondly, “those nations that have yet to do so: Designate Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist body,” Herzog said. “Third, make clear that Hamas carries full responsibility and accountability for the well-being of the hostages it has taken and demand their immediate return to Israel. And fourth, support Israel—in words and in deeds.”
Netanyahu: Five immediate goals
On Tuesday, Netanyahu convened a high-level security assessment, with the participation of Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and the heads of the Mossad and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), among others.
In an address to the nation on Monday night, Netanyahu laid out five immediate goals for the campaign against Hamas:
- To purge the enemy from Israeli towns and communities and prevent the entry of additional enemy combatants, a battle he said was still being waged;
- To carry out an attack on Hamas of “unprecedented intensity”;
- To fortify the other fronts, including the northern border, along with Judea and Samaria and the rest of Israel;
- To continue to strengthen international support “in order to preserve our field of action against our enemies”;
- To foster unity among the Israeli people.
Netanyahu described Israel’s war with Hamas as “a war for the home, a war to secure our existence.”
“This war was forced upon us by a despicable enemy, human animals celebrating the murder of women, children and the elderly,” the prime minister said, speaking in Hebrew. “We have not seen the atrocities that Hamas committed since the horrors of ISIS.”
“Handcuffed children who were executed along with the rest of their families, young men and women shot in the back. They were executed,” he said.
Netanyahu promised Hamas would suffer the same fate as ISIS. “The enemy wanted war, he will get war.”