After Israel has inflicted significant damage in Gaza, and killed at least 21,500 civilians, mostly women and children, its stated objective of eradicating Hamas seems to be far from realised.
As Israel’s military offensive in Gaza enters its 13th week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emphatically said that the Gaza-Egypt border zone should fall under Israel’s jurisdiction.
The demand came against the backdrop of a relentless military campaign carried out by Israel in Gaza, which killed at least 21,500 people – mostly women and children.
During a press conference, Netanyahu stated his vision for the region.
“The Philadelphia Corridor – or to put it more correctly, the southern stoppage point [of Gaza] – must be in our hands. It must be shut. It is clear that any other arrangement would not ensure the demilitarisation that we seek,” he declared.
“The war is at its height. We are fighting on all of the fronts. Achieving victory will require time. As the [Israeli army] chief of staff has said, the war will continue for many more months,” Netanyahu stated.
Additionally, Netanyahu’s rhetoric extended to a rare direct threat against Iran, in response to ongoing confrontations along the Israel-Lebanon border.
“If [the Iran-backed Lebanese armed group] Hezbollah expands the warfare, it will suffer blows that it has not dreamed of – and so too Iran,” he said.
The Israeli military’s actions in Gaza have precipitated a severe humanitarian crisis.
Since the beginning of the offensive on October 7, Israeli bombings and ground operations have led to the deaths of at least 21,672 people, with around 70% women and children.
The devastation has left countless others trapped under rubble and has led to the displacement of nearly the entire 2.3 million population of Gaza, exacerbating the dire conditions in the besieged territory.
The Israeli campaign in Gaza is described as one of the most destructive in recent history. Despite significant destruction, including the devastation of two-thirds of structures in northern Gaza and a quarter in Khan Younis, Israel’s primary goal of destroying Hamas’s military capabilities and rescuing hostages has had no real achievements, experts say.
The campaign has resulted in a high civilian death toll and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospitals, and mosques.
This has led to international calls for a ceasefire and criticism of Israel’s tactics, as President Joe Biden, one of the occupying state’s biggest supporters, acknowledged Israel’s loss of international legitimacy due to “indiscriminate bombing”.
The Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, despite suffering losses, remain a potent force. Most of its battalions continue to be effective combat units, with only a few being rendered inoperable or degraded.