Israel army says war will continue throughout 2024

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Israeli attacks in central Gaza killed at least 35 people on Sunday, hospital officials said, as fighting raged in the small enclave a day after Israel’s prime minister said the war would continue for “many more months,” resisting international calls for a ceasefire.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Thousands of Israeli soldiers are being moved out of the Gaza Strip, the military said on Monday, in the first significant troop withdrawal since the start of the war as forces continue to press on the main city in the southern half of the enclave.

In a briefing on Sunday that announced the troop withdrawal for the first time without specifying how many forces would be leaving, army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari did not say whether the decision meant Israel was launching a new phase Of the war.

“Some reservists will return to their families and work this week. This will provide significant relief to the economy and allow them to gather strength for the next activity in the next year and the fighting will continue and we will still need them,” she said.

The troop movement may signal that fighting is easing in some areas of Gaza, particularly in the northern half where the army has said it is close to taking operational control.

Israel has been under pressure from its main ally, the United States, to begin moving to lower intensity fighting.

News of the withdrawal came ahead of a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region and after the Biden administration bypassed Congress for the second time this month to approve an emergency arms sale to Israel.

But fierce fighting continued in other areas of Gaza, particularly in the southern city of Khan Younis and central areas of the territory.

Israel has pledged to press on until its war goals are achieved, including the dismantling of Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years.

The army said in a statement Monday that five brigades, or several thousand soldiers, will be flown out of Gaza in the coming weeks for training and rest.

Israel has vowed to crush Hamas’ military and governance capabilities in its war, which was sparked by the militant group’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people. About 240 people were taken hostage.

Israel responded with a violent air, land and sea offensive that killed more than 21,800 people in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which makes no distinction between civilians and fighters in its tally.

Israel says more than 8,000 militants have been killed, without providing evidence.

It blames Hamas for the high number of civilian casualties, saying militants lurk in residential areas, including schools and hospitals.

The war has displaced about 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, sending waves of people seeking refuge in Israeli-designated safe areas that the military has nevertheless bombed.

Palestinians feel that nowhere is safe in the small enclave.

Battles in the south

Israeli attacks in central Gaza killed at least 35 people on Sunday, hospital officials said, as fighting raged in the small enclave a day after Israel’s prime minister said the war would continue for “many more months,” resisting international calls for a ceasefire.

In Khan Younis, where Israel is believed to have thousands of soldiers, residents reported airstrikes and shelling in the western and central parts of the city.

The military and the Islamic Jihad militant group reported clashes in the area.

ANNOUNCEMENT

The Palestinian Red Crescent said on X, formerly Twitter, that it had transported several dead and injured following a strike last Sunday on Beach Street in Khan Younis. He released nighttime footage showing medics carrying injured people to ambulances.

Fighting has also been reported in urban refugee camps in central Gaza, where Israel expanded its offensive last week.

“It’s our routine: bombings, massacres and martyrs,” said Saeed Moustafa, a Palestinian from the Nuseirat camp. He said he could hear sporadic explosions and gunfire in Nuseirat and nearby Bureij and Maghazi camps.

“Right as we speak, there’s a big explosion not far from my house,” he said in a phone call Monday morning.

The army said an airstrike killed Adel Mismah, a regional commander of Hamas’ elite Nukhba forces, in the central city of Deir al-Balah.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Hamas fired a large barrage of rockets at Israel, including at its commercial hub Tel Aviv, as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve.

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