Israel's Netanyahu says Gaza war will last 'many months'

Israel's Netanyahu says Gaza war will last 'many months'
Netanyahu has said the war in Gaza will continue for many months in a bid to "eliminate Hamas", though the vast majority of those killed have been civilians.
2 min read
31 December, 2023
Netanyahu said hostages still held in Gaza are a priority, despite public anger over the matter [Getty/file photo]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel's war in Gaza will last "many months" as he renewed his pledge to "eliminate Hamas" from the territory.

Vowing to bring home all Israelis still held hostage in Gaza, Netanyahu said the military was involved in a "complex fight" and needed time to "achieve its goals."

"The war will continue for many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned," Netanyahu told a news conference.

"We will guarantee that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel," he said, claiming that around 8,000 Hamas-affiliated men had already been killed in Israel's military campaign in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Israel has gone on to kill 21,507 Palestinian in the Gaza Strip since it began its ferocious military campaign on October 7, including thousands of women and children. The death toll is feared to be much higher as thousands as believed to be trapped under rubble, while poor hygiene conditions and diseases are likely to exacerbate the death toll in the enclave.

International mediators - who last month brokered a week-long truce that saw more than 100 hostages released and some aid enter Gaza - continue in their efforts to secure a new pause in the war, which has now entered its 13th week.

US news outlet Axios and Israeli website Ynet, both citing unnamed Israeli officials, reported that Qatari mediators had told Israel that Hamas was prepared to resume talks on new hostage releases in exchange for a ceasefire.

When asked if a new deal for hostage releases was being negotiated, Netanyahu said Hamas had been "giving all kinds of ultimatums that we didn't accept".

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"We are seeing a certain shift (but) I don't want to create an expectation," he said without elaborating.

A Hamas delegation was in Cairo on Friday to discuss an Egyptian plan for renewable ceasefires, a staggered release of hostages for Palestinian prisoners and ultimately an end to the war, sources close to Hamas said.

Some 129 hostages are remain in captivity in Gaza, according to the Israeli military.

On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators rallied in Tel Aviv, demanding that the government secure their release.

"Bring them home now," the demonstrators chanted, an AFP correspondent reported.

"The most humane thing that can be done is to bring everyone back," said Moran Stela Yanai, one of the hostages released during last month's truce.