Netanyahu vows ‘complete victory’ as more bombs hit Gaza
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES (AFP) — Israel kept up its bombing of Gaza on Saturday as its war on Hamas approached its fourth month, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to achieve “complete victory” over the Palestinian militants.
AFP correspondents reported Israeli strikes on the southern city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of people have sought shelter from the fighting.
Victims of the bombardment were brought to the European Hospital in Khan Yunis, where relatives and mourners gathered.
One of them, Mohamed Awad, wept over the body of a 12-year-old boy and counted the deaths in his family.
“My brother, his wife, his children, his relatives and the brothers of his wife — there are more than 20 martyrs,” Awad, a journalist, told AFP.
A defiant Netanyahu vowed that Israel would continue its campaign to “eliminate Hamas, return our hostages and ensure that Gaza will no longer be a threat to Israel”.
“We have to put everything aside… until the complete victory is achieved,” Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office.
Army spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israel had “completed the dismantling of the Hamas military framework in the northern Gaza Strip” and would now focus on the centre and the south.
The war was triggered by an unprecedented attack on Israel launched by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
The militants also took around 250 hostages, 132 of whom remain in captivity, according to Israel, including at least 24 believed to have been killed.
In response, Israel is carrying out a relentless bombardment and ground invasion that have killed at least 22,722 people, most of them women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.
In a statement on Saturday, the ministry said it had recorded more than 120 deaths over the past 24 hours.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant presented Israel’s first plan for the “day after” on Thursday, though it has not yet been adopted by Israel’s war cabinet.
However, a senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official said on Saturday that Gaza’s future “is determined by the Palestinian people, not Israel”.
“All scenarios proposed by the occupation politicians and leaders are doomed to fail,” said Hussein al-Sheikh, secretary general of the PLO executive committee.
Top Western diplomats were in the region on Saturday as part of a fresh push to boost the flow of aid into Gaza and address mounting fears of a wider conflict.
In Beirut, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met a senior figure in the political wing of Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah as part of efforts to Lebanon being drawn into the war, an EU source confirmed.
Borrell held talks with the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, Mohammad Raad, Lebanese media reported.
The EU is “engaging in diplomatic dialogue with all relevant political representatives who have influence on the situation on the ground or have a stake in it”, the EU source said.