Netanyahu says Gaza war “must not end” before Israel kills Hamas leadership

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that the  Gaza war "must not end" before Israel kills Hamas leadership in the besieged enclave. More than 27,350 people have been killed by Israel since early October last year.

“Our goal is an absolute victory over Hamas. We will kill the Hamas leadership, therefore we must continue to act in all areas of the Gaza Strip. The war must not end before that. It will take time — months not years,” he said at at a faction meeting of his party, Likud, on Monday.

In the past, Israel has made no secret of its intention to continue hunting Hamas leaders long after the war is over. Netanyahu has also previously stressed that the war against Hamas “will be a long fight”.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also claimed on Monday Hamas’ leadership, including its top official in Gaza, is “on the run” as Israel’s military pushes further south in the Palestinian enclave.

The Israeli military operation in the southern city of Khan Younis will “soon achieve its goals” as troops advance southward on Rafah — Hamas’ last remaining stronghold, Gallant said in a televised briefing.

“Our forces operate on the ground in most of the territory of the Gaza Strip,” he added.

Israel has publicly accused Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar of being the “mastermind” behind the group’s October 7 attack — though experts say he is likely one of several — making him one of the key targets of its war in Gaza.

Gallant claimed Monday that Sinwar had no contact with his fighters and was forced to flee from one hideout to another with the Israeli military in close pursuit.

“He is not leading the forces; he is busy with his own personal survival. He became, instead of the head of Hamas, a fugitive terrorist,” Gallant continued.

Gallant also claimed that Israeli forces had killed or seriously wounded about half of Hamas’ fighters in Gaza.

Husam Badran, a Qatar-based spokesperson for Hamas, denied Gallant’s claims, stressing they were an attempt to raise Israeli morale.

Hamas fighters were “still operating in all areas” of Gaza, according to a statement from Badran published by Hamas media outlet Al Aqsa late Monday.

Israel has launched a military onslaught on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in which Tel Aviv says nearly 1,200 Israelis were killed.

At least 27,500 Palestinians have been killed and 66,835 others injured in Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7. The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

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