The intensive fighting by the Israeli armed forces in the north of Gaza Strip has ended, according to the Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant.
The minister also said the intensive phase of the ground offensive in the south of the sealed-off coastal strip in the area of the city of Khan Younis would also soon be over.
“At the end of the war, there would be no military threat from Gaza. Hamas will not be able to control and function as a military force in the Gaza Strip.
“The IDF would have full freedom of action to do whatever is required to defend the citizens of Israel,” the defence minister said.
“It may take a long time, but it would end with a single scenario, total victory.”
He however said that the Israeli army would keep up military pressure to secure the release of the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza.
“If the fire stops, the fate of the hostages would be sealed for many years in the captivity of Hamas,” said Gallant.
“Without military pressure, no one would talk to us. Only from a position of strength can the hostages be freed,” he claimed.
International pressure has been steadily increasing on Israel to reduce the intensity of the attacks and prevent the mass civilian casualties which have characterised the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip.
Washington has been urging Israel to switch from heavy bombing to more targeted strikes against the the Islamist militant organisation Hamas. (dpa/NAN)