Tel Aviv / Gaza / Ramallah (dpa) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees Hamas in the Gaza Strip significantly weakened by Israeli attacks on its military infrastructure.
The Islamist Palestinian organization was “thrown back years,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday during a visit to an air base in the south of the country, according to his office. Hamas has been “hit it not expecting”.
“We will continue for as long as it takes to calm the people of Israel,” Netanyahu said after this information. The 71-year-old met Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi for a briefing.
Palestinian militants fired rockets and mortar shells again on Israeli cities near the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Two Thai workers were killed in the mass shooting and their accommodation was hit by bullets, Israeli police confirmed. In total, 12 people have been killed in Israel so far as a result of rocket fire from the Palestinian coastal area.
Since the new escalation began eight days ago, the Israeli military has reportedly destroyed tunnels in the Gaza Strip estimated to be about 100 kilometers long. Over the years, according to Israeli records, Hamas had built the tunnel system known as the “metro.” It is hundreds of kilometers long and is used, among other things, to transport hunters, ammunition and food within the Gaza Strip, sometimes by vehicles.
Israel has also killed numerous commanders of Hamas and its allied Islamic Jihad during its week-long military operations. The Israeli Air Force has reduced the homes of countless commanders to rubble and ashes. According to the military, they were used as command centers, communication facilities and weapons stores.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health estimated the number of deaths within a week at 213. The Israeli army has repeatedly stressed that it has no intention of attacking civilian targets. Hamas and other militants, however, are said to store fighters and weapons in or near homes. With two million inhabitants on 365 square kilometers, Gaza is extremely densely populated and built-up.
Meanwhile, tensions in the occupied West Bank escalated. At an Israeli checkpoint near Ramallah, Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers fought a firefight on Tuesday. According to Israeli police, the Palestinians fired at the Israeli post from a crowd of protesters. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, one person was killed and several dozen others were injured. Two soldiers were also injured, according to the Israeli army.
The violence came after thousands of Palestinians in central Ramallah demonstrated against Israeli military attacks in Gaza, and several hundred of them subsequently marched to the checkpoint. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had repeatedly spoken out against armed clashes with Israel in the past. Observers believe he will instruct his security forces to curb armed Fatah groups. Abbas is estimated to fear that Hamas, which is also active in the West Bank, could try to overthrow him with an armed insurrection.
Violence also flared up in Jerusalem. According to the Red Crescent, 25 people were injured in clashes between Arab youth and Israeli police. The focal points of Tuesday’s clashes were the Damascus Gate at the entrance to the Old City and the Arab district of Sheikh Jarrah in the east of the city, which Israel has annexed.
International concern grew over the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, the high number of civilian casualties and the potential spread of the conflict. US President Joe Biden expressed support for a ceasefire. He is increasingly pressured to stand up for an end to the violence. However, in a White House statement, he failed to comply with calls for an immediate ceasefire, including from his own Democratic party.
The US is Israel’s main ally. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on a visit to Iceland on Tuesday: “Our goal remains to end the current cycle of violence as soon as possible.”