Netanyahu Warns of Long and Hard War After Israel Expands Gaza Ground Operations

Israel increased its ground operations in the Gaza Strip, on Friday and Saturday, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to fight Hamas “long and hard.” Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagar stated, “We’re advancing according to our plan in the phases of the war.”

The Jewish state entered a new stage in the conflict, unleashing massive air attacks, and “the earth shook in Gaza.” The Israelis also used tanks and infantry, backed up by massive air and sea strikes.

Strikes have cut off electricity and mobile service in the Strip. This has effectively cut people off from the rest of the world. Hagari reported on Sunday that the services were restored, but civil order was still deteriorating.

UNRWA (the main UN agency that provides relief to Palestinians living in Gaza) said that thousands of Palestinians desperate to survive were breaking into their warehouses and stealing wheat flour, among other staples. This was a sign civil order in Gaza had begun to crumble.

Hamas was blamed by the Israeli Defense Forces for food, fuel, and water shortages.

The Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi’s threatening tweet on Saturday heightened fears that the war might spread to nearby countries.

Netanyahu’s goal was clear: to destroy Hamas.

Netanyahu announced at a Jerusalem press conference late Saturday night that the war has entered its “second phase”. He said that the war’s goals were clear: the destruction of Hamas military and government capabilities, and the release of hostages. He called the conflict a “war to save Israel’s existence”. “We always said: ‘Never again’. Never again. But he did not describe the offensive as an invasion. He said that Israel decided to “expand its ground operations” and sent in “additional forces”.

Hamas’s continued detention of over 200 hostages complicates the situation. Netanyahu is under pressure to release them:

Netanyahu is faced with a dilemma when it comes to stepping up his ground offensive. The families of the hostages whom Netanyahu met on Saturday night have warned him that an invasion may endanger their lives. Meirav Gonen is the mother of Romi Leshem (23), who was kidnapped from a music concert.

The pain of the family members who don’t know if their loved ones are alive is evident.

Protests in support of Palestine are sweeping the nation and the world despite the fact that Hamas terrorists carried out a surprise attack on Israel, killing over 1,000 innocent civilians.

This war is entering its next phase and it looks more and more as if it will be a long-term battle that will continue to shape the Middle East in years to come.