update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu: War to eliminate Hamas will take ‘many months’

Israel's prime minister reiterates pledge to return all the hostages being held in Gaza.

Israeli forces during Gaza ground operations, Jan. 11, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israeli forces during Gaza ground operations, Jan. 11, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned that, during 2024, the Jewish state would continue to fight to destroy the Hamas terrorist organization and return Israeli hostages held captive in the Gaza Strip.

“One hundred days ago, the Hamas monsters invaded the State of Israel and massacred us. They raped and burned our citizens and took them hostage. We have returned half of them. We are not giving up on anyone,” said Netanyahu ahead of a Cabinet meeting to approve the war budget.

Jerusalem seeks to “conduct the war in the coming year and complete it, including [the goals of] eliminating Hamas, returning our hostages and restoring security and the sense of security in both the north and the south so that the residents can return there,” the premier revealed.

“One of the things that has become clear beyond all doubt is that we must conduct this war, and it will still take many months,” stated Netanyahu, adding that the proposed war budget is also laying the foundations for the security of future generations.

For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the war against Hamas would continue until the terrorist organization is “defeated.”

“It’s been 100 days since Hamas launched a brutal attack on Israel—murdering, raping and torturing children, women, and men. It’s been 100 days since our loved ones were taken hostage to Gaza. We will not let the world forget. We will not leave them behind,” Gallant wrote on X.

“The IDF is fighting the most just war in our history. And while we face a brutal enemy, we continue maintaining moral and professional standards, taking measures to distinguish between the civilian population and terrorists,” tweeted the defense minister.

Speaking to troops at a military base in Beit El in Samaria on Sunday, Gallant employed even stronger language, telling soldiers, “We have declared war on Hamas from now until eternity, in Judea and Samaria, in Lebanon, wherever is necessary.”

The Israeli leaders’ statements came as John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the U.S. National Security Council, told Reuters that a “lower intensity phase” of the war is approaching soon.

Israel’s counterterror operations have in recent weeks focused heavily on the southern Gaza Strip terror stronghold of Khan Yunis, where Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is presumed to be in hiding.

On Sunday, the IDF announced that troops from the Kfir Brigade—the army’s largest infantry brigade—have been expanding their raids in the Khan Yunis area.

Troops carried out targeted military raids, discovering missile warheads, Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition, as well as grenades and uniforms of Hamas’s elite Nukhba unit, the terror forces that led the Oct. 7 onslaught into southwestern Israel that resulted in the murder of 1,200 people.

“Over the past few weeks, the brigade’s forces hit and exposed quite a few terrorist infrastructures, including underground infrastructures, booby-trapped houses, ammunition and weapons,” said Kfir Brigade deputy commander Lt. Col. Guy. “We had quite a few encounters with terrorists; we hit them where it hurts and eliminated them.”

As Israel marked on Sunday 100 days since the Oct. 7 massacre, Hamas continued to launch rockets throughout the day, setting off air-raid sirens in Ashdod, Yavne, Kibbutz Sa’ad, Moshav Ben Zakai, Moshav Zimrat and Moshav Shuva. No casualties were reported in the attacks.

Bituach Leumi, Israel’s social security administration, on Sunday published comprehensive data on civilian casualties since the start of the war 14 weeks ago.

According to the organization’s most recent data, 779 civilians have been murdered by terrorists since Hamas launched its surprise attacks, including 76 foreign nationals. More than 50,000 civilians have been injured; 102 sustained serious injuries and 171 were moderately wounded.

“One hundred days of fighting have passed, and as time goes by, we are exposed to the magnitude of the pain, the terror, the difficulties, and the understanding that the war and its consequences will remain with us for a long time,” said Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur.

Bituach Leumi recognized 1,962 people as recurring victims of hostilities—they were injured in terrorist acts in the past and were again injured during the past 100 days of fighting.

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