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Netanyahu: Israel is ‘advancing toward the end of eliminating Hamas’ terror army’

Financial Times: Israeli 'day after' pilot aims to create Hamas-free ‘bubbles’ in Gaza

Israeli forces operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

“We are advancing toward the end of the phase of eliminating Hamas’ terror army but there will be a continuation of striking its remnants,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday evening, according to Israeli media reports.

“I returned yesterday from a tour of the Gaza Division, where I saw very great achievements of the fighting that is being carried out in Rafah,” he said, adding that he was also “very impressed by the achievements above ground, underground, and by the fighting spirit of the commanders.”

On Sunday, Netanyahu took part in an assessment regarding the overall situation on the southern border, amid local reports that Israel would soon declare the intensive phase of the war in Gaza to be over.

Most of Israel's senior security chiefs participated in the meeting, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, IDF Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva and several IDF division commanders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Israel National Defense College cadets at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, July, 1 2024. (Photo: Koby Gideon/GPO)

The Prime Minister’s Office stated that the officials discussed “the developments of the fighting in the Gaza Strip, with an emphasis on the fighting in Rafah."

The discussion included the approaching end of the Rafah operation, and the beginning of “Phase Three” of the fighting, which would center on localized raids and air strikes, according to Channel 13 news.

According to an informed source cited by Ynet News, however, it was still “too early to talk” about the end of the intensive phase as there was still much to be done to eliminate Hamas’ terror nests in Rafah.

On Monday, Israel Defense Forces called on residents of eastern Khan Younis to evacuate after 20 rockets were fired at Israel from the area. This could reportedly be the first step to a renewed operation in the town.

The discussion around an end of the intensive phase of fighting in southern Gaza is widely seen as a significant step to prepare the IDF for a possible escalation in the north, as large numbers of troops would have to be transferred to that location from the southern theater.

In addition, the development has led to renewed discussions around the question of who will govern Gaza “day after” the war ends.

The British newspaper Financial Times reported on Monday that Israel plans to launch another pilot testing a plan for the “day after” in northern Gaza. This plan would see the creation of “humanitarian enclaves,” or bubbles, in several locations in northern Gaza in areas declared free from the presence of Hamas, where aid will be distributed to the residents.

According to the report, humanitarian aid would be transferred from the Erez Crossing directly to Palestinians, who would be tasked with its distribution. In the initial phase, the distribution would be secured by IDF troops.

A second stage would see the expansion of the bubbles to additional areas until the influence of Hamas over the Gaza Strip comes to an end.

However, similar pilots in the past were not successful.

“We have already tried it in three different centers in the north and center of the Gaza Strip, including against local clans,” an Israeli official said. “Hamas killed all of them or attacked them with severe violence, and stopped it.”

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

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