In a primetime address to the nation on Thursday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to continue the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip until the Israel Defense Forces achieves “total victory” over the Palestinian terror organization and the 130-plus captives are freed.
“I promise here before our soldiers, I promise before the bereaved families … and I promise before the families of the hostages: We will not stop. We will not finish the war before returning our loved ones home, we will not finish the war before total victory,” stated the premier.
According to Netanyahu, ending the war before these objectives are met would harm the security of the Jewish state “for generations.”
“Halting the war before the goals are achieved will broadcast a message of weakness,” he said. “The war is continuing on all fronts. This is my directive. This is the political leadership’s directive to the military leadership. This is the directive of the government of Israel to the IDF.”
“We will have difficulties and challenges along the way, but after the terrible massacre of October 7, we have no other choice,” he charged, adding that “victory will take many long months, but we are determined to achieve it.”
Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called a press conference to signal the impending end to heavy combat operations in the southern and northern parts of Gaza.
“The intensive maneuvering phase in the north of the Gaza Strip has ended, and in the south, it will also end soon,” Gallant said on Monday evening.
The announcement came a day after the 36th Division—the IDF’s largest regular-service armored division, which includes the Golani Infantry Brigade—left Gaza for rest and training. On Tuesday, the IDF announced that the undercover counterterror Duvdevan Unit would also leave and redeploy to its regular location in Judea and Samaria.
At this stage, three divisions remain in Gaza, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirmed during a press briefing on Wednesday night.
In the past 48 hours, soldiers fought many difficult battles, mainly in the southern Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis, leaving dozens of terrorists dead, Netanyahu revealed in his televised address on Thursday.
Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, who masterminded the Oct. 7 massacre of some 1,200 persons in Israel, is believed to be hiding in Khan Yunis, where he has reportedly surrounded himself with a large number of hostages, preventing the IDF from carrying out an airstrike on him.
Earlier on Thursday, the IDF said that its forces continue to push south, raiding a key Hamas outpost during the army’s southernmost military operation since the start of the offensive in Gaza three months ago.
Soldiers of the IDF’s Givati infantry brigade conducted a targeted raid on the Shuhada (“Martyrs”) outpost, a large terror compound used by the Southern Battalion of Hamas’s Khan Yunis Brigade.
The compound included a training area for both open and urban warfare, alongside operational headquarters, the military said. Troops seized intelligence documents, as well as numerous weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, hand grenades, RPG launchers and ammunition.
The IDF also said that it found equipment used to dig tunnels. Israeli intelligence suggests there are about 100 miles of tunnels under the city of Khan Yunis alone, The New York Times reported earlier this week.
With the assistance of tank and air support, dozens of Hamas terrorists were killed during close-quarters combat at the outpost, the IDF said.
Israeli forces killed some 60 terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, including 40 in Khan Yunis, the IDF announced on Thursday morning.
In the center of the Strip, the IDF completed the destruction of Hamas’s Central Camp Brigade’s weapon production infrastructure. The compound included workshops and factories both above and below ground.