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July 17, 2024

Israel Vows to Push South to Rafah After Declaring Victory in Khan Younis

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Feb 2, 2024

Israel has declared victory over Hamas forces in the Gaza city of Khan Younis after weeks of intense fighting, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has now vowed that troops will push south towards the city of Rafah to continue dismantling Hamas’ infrastructure.

Israel Claims Major Gains After Khan Younis Offensive

After securing control over Khan Younis, Israel’s second-largest city in Gaza with a pre-war population of over 200,000, Gallant told troops that the offensive has killed or seriously wounded around half of Hamas’ fighting forces in the territory.

“The Hamas brigades and battalions in Khan Younis no longer exist. We have hit thousands of targets and destroyed hundreds of kilometers of tunnels,” Gallant said.

Reuters has reported that Israel claims over 10,000 Hamas militants have been killed since fighting erupted 118 days ago. With the long-running conflict taking an immense toll on the Palestinian enclave, Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh is reportedly now considering an Egyptian proposal for a cessation of hostilities.

Pre-War Gaza Population Current Estimated Gaza Death Toll

| 2 million | 26,500+ killed, over 60,000 wounded

While Israel still aims to completely eliminate the military capabilities of Hamas and allied militant groups, Gallant has warned troops that achieving this goal could take many more months of grueling urban warfare. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and dozens of civilians have also lost their lives in intense cross-border violence since fighting erupted in late October 2023.

Push South Towards Rafah Planned to Dismantle Hamas

With the hard-fought battle for Khan Younis now over, Gallant said the military will push south towards Rafah near the Egyptian border to continue its goal of fully dismantling Hamas’ infrastructure.

Rafah was also warned by leaflets dropped Monday to evacuate ahead of intensified bombing. Israel has come under harsh international condemnation for the massive civilian death toll and destruction inflicted on Gaza’s densely populated urban areas over nearly 4 months of devastating conflict, but remains determined to continue operations until its security demands are met.

Gallant told troops after the Khan Younis offensive:

“Khan Younis has fallen, and now we will move towards Rafah. We will continue to dismantle Hamas’ terror infrastructure, kill its commanders, and destroy its capabilities.”

Ceasefire Talks Continue as Death Toll Mounts

While Israel presses forward militarily, Hamas and Egyptian mediators are reportedly discussing an extended ceasefire proposal. With Gaza’s infrastructure in ruins and over a quarter of the population believed killed or injured, Hamas is facing intense pressure to halt the fighting.

However, previous ceasefire attempts have collapsed over major disagreements on issues like Hamas prisoner releases, Gaza’s blockade and reconstruction, and Israeli security demands.

Al Jazeera has reported that the death toll in Gaza is now approaching 27,000, with over 66,000 wounded. Rights groups warn the final count could be significantly higher.

While support in Israel for expanded military action remains high after ongoing rocket fire from Gaza and the death of civilians, there are signs of increasing dissent over the prolonged conflict’s cost as more IDF funerals take place.

Barriers to Ending Conflict Remain Formidable

Even if a tentative truce deal is reached in coming weeks, formidable barriers remain to ending renewed major conflict in the future.

  • Militant capabilities will likely rapidly rebuild without Israeli security demands like demilitarization met
  • Reconstruction funds could be diverted by Hamas towards re-armament if safeguards not guaranteed
  • Underlying tensions over issues like settlements, blockade, Palestinian rights seem unlikely to abate

With one of the bloodiest rounds of fighting in years still raging after nearly 4 months, a return to sustained calm and preventing a new severe Gaza escalation in the near future will pose a steep challenge for all parties.

What’s Next?

In the coming days and weeks:

  • Israel expected to launch large-scale offensive on Rafah after consolidating control of Khan Younis
  • International efforts to broker enduring ceasefire deal and avert humanitarian crisis likely to intensify
  • Gaza toll set to continue rising with ongoing intense urban warfare
  • Increased dissent and fatigue in Israel over conflict’s duration may pressure government
  • Rebuilding Gaza after unprecedented damage a complex long-term issue requiring billions in aid

The road ahead promises to remain extraordinarily difficult, as ending the current hostilities and charting a course towards lasting stability is strewn with obstacles from all sides. With Israeli vowing to push forward and Hamas debating its response, the crisis looks set to continue escalating before any de-escalation can occur.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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