Israel Expands Ground Operations To Whole Of Gaza, Seeking "Total Victory"

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Dec 04, 2023 - 03:45 PM

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday announced for the first time that not only are its air strikes extending to the south of the Gaza Strip, where the bulk of civilians from the north have fled, but it is expanding its ground operations to the whole of Gaza.

Following the collapse of the week-long truce on Friday, spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing, "The IDF is resuming and expanding the ground operation against Hamas’ strongholds across the whole Gaza Strip."

"Our policy is clear — we will forcefully strike any threat posed against our territory," he emphasized in words that came the day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged "total victory" and that the war will be taken to Hamas "until the end." 

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He still vowed to "do everything possible" to return the 137 hostages still in Hamas captivity. Contrary to Washington's stance, he batted down a reporter's question about the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) potential role in a post-war Gaza, saying it "pays murderers" and "educate[s] their children to hate Israel and, to my sorrow, to murder Jews, and ultimately for the disappearance of the State of Israel."

"I’m not prepared to delude myself and say that this defective thing, established under the Oslo Accords in a terrible mistake," he said of the idea of the PA governing a post-war Gaza.

During his weekend remarks, Netanyahu also again warned Hezbollah that its further involvement in the war would bring about the destruction of all of Lebanon. This came amid reports that a Hezbollah missile attack sent 12 Israelis to the hospital - with troops and civilians among them.

Following last week's ceasefire, the death toll has once again continued to mount, with the latest data from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza saying at least 15,200 Gazans have died since Oct.7 - with most of them being women and children.

Two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported, "Palestinian health officials in Gaza said Tuesday that they have lost the ability to count the dead because of the collapse of parts of the enclave’s health system and the difficulty of retrieving bodies from areas overrun by Israeli tanks and troops."

As for the IDF death toll since ground operations were initiated, this stands at 75 Israeli troops killed, according to official military numbers. 

Given the huge and rising Palestinian death toll, the White House has been feeling more international pressure to place conditions on the US weaponry sent to Israel, which Biden has so far refused to do. Biden's top national security (NSC) official John Kirby faced scrutiny concerning the administration's stance on multiple fronts related to Gaza:

The White House believes Israel is "making an effort" to minimize civilian deaths in Gaza, a senior official said Sunday, as international concern mounted over the numbers killed in the resumed war with Hamas.

Speaking on the US Sunday talk shows, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also insisted that US intelligence was unaware of any secret, advance Hamas blueprint for its brutal October 7 attack on Israel that triggered the conflict.

The New York Times reported last week that Israeli authorities had obtained such a document a year before the attack occurred, and a report on Israel’s Channel 12 Sunday claimed plans for a Hamas assault on the scale of the October 7 attack were in Israeli hands as early as 2018.

As the reported Gaza death toll surpassed 15,000 - Blinken simply repeated the standard talking point that the US believes Israel is doing everything it can to minimize civilian deaths and 'collateral damage'.

"We believe they have been receptive to our messages here of trying to minimalize civilian casualties," he said. He pointed to Israel having published a map informing civilians of where they can go to find safety. 

"There's not a whole lot of modern militaries that would do that... to telegraph their punches in that way. So they are making an effort," Kirby said. However, Palestinian officials have long complained that places once thought safe, such as southern towns, are still coming under major bombardment.