JERUSALEM/GAZA - Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Thursday the military is ready to resume fighting in the Gaza Strip if the ceasefire agreement with Hamas is not renewed for another day.
“At this hour, we are progressing and awaiting the release of additional hostages who are due to return as part of the agreed-upon deal,” Hagari says. He says that overnight, the IDF “insisted” on carrying out the current deal with Hamas, in which the Hamas group is set to release the women and children it is holding hostage.
“We will do so tomorrow as well. The mediators, Qatar and Egypt, are also obligated to carry out the deal, so that the ceasefire can continue,” he says. “The IDF is ready to resume the fighting. We are prepared to attack at any hour, tonight as well,” Hagari says.
On a Hamas video showing Yarden Bibas, Hagari says “our hearts are with him and the entire Bibas family.” He calls the video “psychological terror” and adds that Hamas’s claim that Yarden’s wife Shiri, and two young kids Ariel and Kfir were killed, is still not verified.
According to leaked remarks from Thursday’s war cabinet meeting, attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Blinken told Israel it cannot operate in southern Gaza in the way it has done in the north — a presumed reference to the heavy air bombardment and crushing ground operation — and indicated that Israel has weeks, not months, to complete its declared mission of destroying Hamas.
The US Administration has repeatedly backed Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas in the wake of the terror group’s October 7 slaughter of 1,200 Israelis, but has indicated it is increasingly troubled by the civilian fatalities and widespread destruction in the Hamas-run strip. Blinken’s reported remarks are quoted only in Hebrew translation by Channel 12 news, and have been translated back into English here: Blinken: You can’t operate in southern Gaza in the way you did in the north. There are two million Palestinians there. You need to evacuate fewer people from their homes, be more accurate in the attacks, not hit UN facilities, and ensure that there are enough protected areas [for civilians]. And if not? Then not to attack where there is a civilian population. What is your system of operation? Gunmen killed three people and wounded several more in Jerusalem on Thursday, Israeli police said, in an attack shortly after extension of a truce in the Israel-Hamas war. Police said both attackers were from annexed east Jerusalem and were shot dead at the scene, near a bus stop on the western side of Jerusalem, where there are no checkpoints guarding the city entrance. “Two arrived in a car, one of them armed with an M-16 and the other with a pistol,” and opened fire, Jerusalem police chief Doron Torgeman told reporters at the scene. The two gunmen were shot dead “after the attack by two off-duty IDF (Israeli army) soldiers and another civilian who fired at them”, police said in a statement.