MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

War is not over, say Israel and Hamas officials after active fighting subsides in Gaza

Analysts said the withdrawal of Israeli troops suggested only that the war had entered a new phase, one in which Israel would continue to mount small-scale operations across Gaza to prevent Hamas’ resurgence

New York Times News Service Jerusalem Published 10.04.24, 06:16 AM
Representational image

Representational image File image

The Israeli military’s departure from the southern Gaza Strip over the weekend has left the devastated territory in a state of suspense as active fighting there receded on Monday to its lowest ebb since a brief truce with Hamas in November.

But even as some observers hoped Israel’s withdrawal from the area might portend a new cease-fire, Hamas and Israeli officials suggested the war was not yet over.

ADVERTISEMENT

Analysts said the withdrawal of Israeli troops suggested only that the war had entered a new phase, one in which Israel would continue to mount small-scale operations across Gaza to prevent Hamas’ resurgence. That strategy, they said, could occupy a middle ground between reaching a lasting truce with Hamas and ordering a major ground assault into Rafah, Hamas’ last stronghold in southern Gaza where more than 1 million Palestinians have taken refuge.

In a statement on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that while Israel was still pursuing a deal to secure the release of its hostages in Gaza, it was also seeking “total victory over Hamas”.

“This victory requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there,” Netanyahu said. “This will happen; there is a date.” He did not specify the date.

By withdrawing now without having fulfilled its stated mission of eliminating Hamas and without empowering an alternative Palestinian leadership, Israel has left behind a power vacuum in Gaza, in which Hamas could regroup as a military force across much of the territory.

The Israeli military said on Sunday that its 98th Division had left Khan Younis in southern Gaza “to recuperate and prepare for future operations”. That leaves no Israeli troops actively manoeuvring in southern Gaza, according to two officials briefed on the matter who were not authorised to speak publicly about it.

The Israeli leaders painted the withdrawal as a sign of Israel’s progress on the battlefield and something it had long predicted. Israeli officials have said they would eventually move most troops back to the strip’s perimeter.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT