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Bringing back hostages won't happen without military pressure, says IDF chief

IDF Chief of Staff Leut. Gen. Herzi Halevi in a situational assessment in Gaza, Feb. 6, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi held a situational assessment in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

Speaking with IDF commanders, he acknowledged the unique challenges in the current war in Gaza.

"I don't think that in the last 40-50 years there has been a military that has fought in an area so densely-populated, both above and below ground, with such an enemy prepared for defense, with so many problems in each square kilometer, and with such absolute success in military terms," Halevi told the commanders.

"And this is a very, very significant achievement; very, very significant. You can be very proud of this, you're doing it with your hands, with your feet," he continued.

He also addressed the feeling of lack of progress in the slow and methodical fighting.

"Today is Day 122, but we are advancing, we are not standing still. We could say to ourselves: 'What are you doing in the same place? You were here, why are you here again?' No. We came to the same place, but it's a completely different story. We are working with different intelligence, different objectives, different achievements, we are killing more enemy forces. And I see day by day the numbers, the achievements, the underground, the computers," the IDF chief said.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt-.Gen. Herzi Halevi in a situational assessment in Gaza, Feb. 6, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

He pointed out the necessity of the current method of fighting.

"When we talked about dismantling Hamas, we didn't think it would be in a week, we didn't think it would be in a month - it's peeling off layers," the Israeli military chief noted.

"And what we are doing now in this repetition is going back, sometimes for the second time, sometimes for a third time, to the same space, and cementing our achievements. The principle of raids, quality focused efforts, the correct combat management, surprise and stratagem – will cement the achievement."

IDF Chief of Staff Leut. Gen. Herzi Halevi in a situational assessment in Gaza, Feb. 6, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

Halevi also emphasized the need to continue fighting in Gaza in order to bring back home the remaining Israeli hostages still held in Hamas captivity.

"More terrorists killed, more commanders killed, more infrastructure destroyed, and I hope this pressure also brings us to achieving another important goal of bringing back the hostages, I hope all of them, we are making a big effort on this. It won't happen without military pressure, so we are fighting all across the Strip, in an organized operation, with surprise raids, and we will continue to do it in a very, very high-quality way," Halevi concluded.

IDF Chief of Staff Leut. Gen. Herzi Halevi in a situational assessment in Gaza, Feb. 6, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

After more than one week of deliberations, Hamas finally communicated its response to the latest hostage deal proposal to Israel, as announced by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday evening.

Among the demands was a full stop to Israel’s military operations, including airborne military operations. In addition, Hamas is demanding the release of 1,500 convicted Palestinian prisoners, including 500 murder convicts; a massive increase in humanitarian aid; the restoration of water and electricity transport to the Gaza Strip; and the return of all remaining hostages to Israel.

On Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ terms for the hostage deal, calling them “delusional.” 

Netanyahu said that capitulation to such terms would not lead to the release of more hostages but would only invite another Hamas massacre in the future.

“I would like to emphasize again - there is no other solution than total victory. If Hamas survives in Gaza, it is only a matter of time until the next massacre, and the evil axis of Iran and its proxies will continue its campaign of killing and aggression unhindered,” he said at the press conference.

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

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