Jerusalem: In clear signs of Israeli control over parts of Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with his senior colleagues, entered the Islamist Hamas-ruled coastal Strip on Sunday to meet Israeli soldiers to boost their morale and vowed to carry on the fight “until the end”.
Netanyahu received security briefings from commanders and soldiers and visited one of the tunnels that has been revealed, an official press statement said.
“We are here in the Gaza Strip with our heroic soldiers. We are making every effort to return our hostages, and in the end we will return them all. We have three goals in this war: eliminate Hamas, return all of our hostages and ensure that Gaza will not go back to being a threat to the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told the soldiers on the ground.
“I am here to tell the soldiers, who all tell me the same thing, and I repeat it to you, citizens of Israel: We are continuing until the end – until victory. Nothing will stop us, and we are convinced that we have the force, the strength, the will and the determination to achieve all of our goals for the war, and this is what we will do,” he asserted.
The Israeli prime minister was accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Tzachi Braverman, National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi, his Military Secretary Maj-Gen Avi Gil, and Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj-Gen Amir Baram.
Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and other senior Israeli officials have visited the northern part of the Strip during the ongoing war in a clear indication that Israel now has control over the ground in a big chunk of the territory.
Israel and Hamas are at the moment exchanging hostages for Palestinian prisoners in a temporary four-day “pause” mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States which will also see humanitarian aid, including fuel, entering into the Gaza Strip.
The four-day ceasefire, when 50 Israeli hostages are likely to be released against 150 Palestinian prisoners, may get extended with Israel agreeing to one-day of extension for every 10 hostages being released.