Israel claims to announce Hamas ‘defeat' in Rafah, moving to 3rd phase of war

3rd phase of war means transitioning from intensive bombing of Gaza to targeted airstrikes based on intelligence, Israeli media outlets indicate

15:26 - 25/06/2024 mardi
File photo
File photo

The Israeli army will declare the "defeat" of Hamas' Rafah Brigade in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah within days, signifying the "transition to the third phase of the war," Israeli media revealed Tuesday, after the first phase of bombing from outside the enclave and the second phase of ground incursion into the strip.

“The army estimates that it will be possible within a few days to announce the defeat of the Rafah Brigade, effectively concluding the intense phase of the ground maneuver throughout the strip,” the Israeli Army Radio reported.

“This means that the Israeli army will fully shift to airstrikes across the entire strip,” said the outlet, adding: “The security establishment estimates that even in the third phase (of the war), we will be required to leave two brigades in Gaza to continue carrying out repeated airstrikes.”

In recent weeks, Israeli media indicated that the third phase of the war means transitioning from intensive bombing of Gaza to targeted airstrikes based on intelligence.

The Army Radio claimed that “the 162nd Division of the Israeli army has killed 750 Palestinian militants since the start of its operation in Rafah.”

It added: "The Israeli army estimates that thousands of militants have fled Rafah. Only about a quarter of the militants who were in Rafah before the operation remained on the ground to fight against the Israeli army, while the rest fled.”

It also noted that the army has not been able to eliminate the Tel al-Sultan and Shabora battalions of Hamas in Rafah.

Despite mentioning the imminent conclusion of the military operation in Rafah, the Army Radio indicated that the army “will remain for several months in the Philadelphi Corridor area on the border between Gaza and Egypt."

“The operation that will not end soon in Rafah is the destruction of smuggling tunnels on the Philadelphi Route,” added the radio. "Even after the forces leave Rafah, there is an intention to keep forces in the Philadelphi Route and continue holding it until further notice."

It concluded: "The Israeli army estimates that it will take several more months to fully uncover and destroy the smuggling tunnels to Egypt."

Israel, flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 attack last year by Hamas.

More than 37,600 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and nearly 86,100 others injured, according to local health authorities.

More than eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered it to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala

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