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IDF believes Hamas still holding some Israeli hostages in Rafah

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari arrive for a statement to the media at an army base in southern Israel, December 26, 2023. (Photo: Flash90)

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari stated that the Israeli military troops are still fighting against Hamas terrorists across the entire Gaza Strip.

"We are fighting Hamas from the north to the south," Hagari said during a World Zionist Organization (WZO) emergency conference in Jerusalem. 

The senior IDF official stressed the importance of the southern Gazan city Rafah where Israel believes that Hamas keeps some of the Israeli hostages. 

"We will finish in Rafah, it is an important city - there are hostages in Rafah," Hagari said.

Earlier this month, Israeli commando forces rescued two Israeli hostages in a daring operation in Rafah, which Israel considers to be one of the last Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip. 

The IDF spokesman also addressed the worldwide surge in antisemitism

“I am here with you today because I receive new information, on a daily basis, of antisemitic incidents occurring across the globe,” Hagari said. 

He admitted that the challenge was immense and concerned the entire Jewish community and its friends worldwide.

"The challenge is huge, and we are dealing with it together - this war is not limited to the Gaza Strip," Hagari said.

"This war is fought by the entire Jewish People - we are losing this war based on social media, we must improve,” he added.  "We need to continue battling in this arena for the truth so that the entire world knows."

Hagari turned his attention to Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

“We will get to him, dead or alive," Hagari vowed.

Sinwar's whereabouts have been hotly debated since Hamas terrorists and their allies brutally attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Israeli forces reportedly nearly captured Sinwar two times during the ongoing military operations in Gaza. 

Israel dismissed recent reports that the Hamas leader Sinwar had fled from Gaza to the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula through the Rafah tunnel network.

The IDF is concerned that Sinwar and other top Hamas officials may try to smuggle Israeli hostages out of Gaza. However, Israel believes Sinwar remains hidden in Gaza, likely somewhere in the subterranean tunnel network in southern Gaza.

Despite the IDF's goal to defeat Hamas and rescue the hostages, much of the international community is opposed to an Israeli military operation in the Hamas stronghold in Rafah.

While the United States has supported Israel against Hamas, Washington has continued to express concerns about the safety of the more than one million Gazan civilians concentrated in the Rafah area near the Egyptian border.

Nonetheless, the Israeli government is determined to eventually carry out a military operation against the remaining Hamas forces in the southern Gaza town.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Israeli military to prepare an evacuation plan for the civilians in Rafah, as well as to defeat the four remaining Hamas battalions in the area. 

“It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah,” the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem stated

“Therefore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the IDF and the security establishment to submit to the Cabinet a combined plan for evacuating the population and destroying the battalions,” the PMO added. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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