In what is shaping up to be a pivotal fight in the two-month-long conflict with Hamas, Israeli soldiers advanced into Gaza’s biggest city.
According to Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, Israeli forces are engaging in combat operations inside Khan Younis, the biggest city in southern Gaza and the last stronghold of Hamas in the area. The entire community is urging Israel to cease its conflict as the Israelis approach the city where key Hamas militants, including leader Yahya Sinwar, are believed to be hiding. According to Finkelman, the battle is the most severe he has seen since the war began.
Reports show US Democrat lawmakers have urged the Biden Administration to negotiate a Gaza ceasefire. UN officials, including Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have demanded a regional ceasefire.
Guterres claimed in November that Israel Defense Forces are conducting ground operations and bombarding civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches, and UN facilities, causing widespread fear and destruction.
In late November, a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was broken when Hamas fired rockets into Israel.
Despite mounting international pressure, Israel is gearing up to deal a crushing blow to Hamas.
In light of their current situation, Israel is contemplating seizing Khan Younis in order to weaken Hamas. The loss of Khan Younis would cause Hamas to lose its center of gravity, according to Kobi Michael, a senior scholar at The Institute for National Security Studies.
Reports show Israel has already captured a significant portion of northern Gaza, and around 30,000 Hamas militants have been killed. But many of the hostages taken by Hamas in the terrorist strikes on October 7—attacks that murdered more than 1,200 Israelis—are still held by the group.
According to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, it was alleged that Hamas has not freed additional female prisoners because the terror group doesn’t want them to speak about what they went through in captivity.