As Israel reaches day 60 of the war against Hamas, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said Tuesday that the "forces are now encircling the Khan Younis area in the southern Gaza Strip, and those who thought that the IDF would not know how to renew the fighting after the pause was mistaken, and Hamas is already feeling this."
"Simultaneously, we continue to secure our accomplishments in the northern Gaza Strip. Many Hamas terrorists, including senior commanders, have been eliminated in recent days," Halevi added.
"We have moved to the third phase of the ground offensive," Halevi said. "We have secured many Hamas strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip, and now we are operating against its strongholds in the south. We operate professionally; evacuating the population from combat zones; and striking Hamas from above and below ground with combined strikes from the air, sea and land."
"Many ask about the destruction in Gaza. Hamas is the address. Yahya Sinwar is the address. Our forces located weapons and engage in combat with terrorists in nearly every building and house," the IDF chief continued. "We understand that part of their method is to use civilian houses and clothing. Therefore the forces operate strongly while making big efforts to mitigate as much as possible harm to civilians," he added.
"The military pressure we are applying and have applied in recent weeks severely damaged Hamas, and we are advancing in all the war’s objectives, with the top priority of returning all hostages home. On Monday I had the opportunity to meet commanders in the northern Gaza Strip. We spoke, and they said very clearly – we are ready and willing to do everything to return the hostages, to do everything to strike Hamas and dismantle this organization," he said.
The IDF chief of staff also addressed the northern border with Lebanon and said that Hezbollah chose to open fire at the end of the cease-fire, and the IDF anticipated that. "We are resolutely acting against anyone preparing, or attempting, to harm the citizens of Israel, IDF soldiers, or those that pose a threat to our territory. We are focused on Gaza, but at the same time, we continue to operate to achieve security on the northern border," he said.
Halevi also mentioned the West Bank, saying that in the "last two months, over 1,200 Hamas terrorists were apprehended, many of them carried out terror attacks in the past, while others were planning to do so in the future. They were either arrested or killed, and the IDF is very determined to preserve this effort."