“They understand that they are not in a position to tell the IDF how long it needs in order to achieve the goals. The good thing is that they share the same goals. … It is correct to assume that we cannot measure this in weeks, and I’m not certain that it could be measured in months,” Hanegbi said.
CNN has previously reported that US officials expect Israel’s operation targeting the southern end of the strip to last several weeks before it transitions, possibly by January, to a lower-intensity, hyper-localized strategy that narrowly targets specific Hamas fighters and leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials.
The White House is deeply concerned about how Israel’s operations will unfold over the next several weeks, a senior US administration official said. The US has warned Israel firmly in “hard” and “direct” conversations, the official added, that the Israeli Defense Forces cannot replicate the kind of devastating tactics it used in the north and must do more to limit civilian casualties.
Hanegbi added that he did not think Hamas leadership had expected the scope of Israel’s response to the attacks on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed.
“I do not think that (Yahya) Sinwar (Hamas’ leader in Gaza) realized that the IDF will actually reach any point they want inside Gaza, (and) kill over 7,000 terrorists,” he said.
“This is the minimal estimate, it could be higher since we don’t know everything,” he added.
“We are getting very close to the control and command centers of Hamas in Jabalia and Shejaiya, the strongholds of persistent resistance in the northern Gaza Strip. And in the south, we’re operating fiercely.”
Earlier, the Israel Defense Forces issued what it called “an urgent appeal” for civilians to leave neighborhoods in the southern city of Khan Younis, as clashes continue in different parts of the strip.
Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the territory’s Palestinian resistance movements waged Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the regime in response to the Tel Aviv’s decades-long campaign of bloodletting and devastation against the Palestinians.
The regime has killed at least 17,500 people, most of them women and children, in Gaza since. More than 46,000 people have been wounded as well.