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Israel to end intensive strikes soon, violence surges in West Bank

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-01-16 09:34
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This photo taken on Jan 12, 2024 shows destroyed buildings at Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. [Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM - Israel on Monday said the "intensive" phase of its war on Hamas in southern Gaza would end "soon", while a surge in violence in the West Bank has left several Palestinians dead.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a press briefing that the military has completed "the intensive maneuvering stage in the northern Gaza Strip". He further added that in the southern enclave, the "intensive stage" is expected to conclude "soon".

According to Gallant, Israel's ongoing war against Hamas, which began after Hamas' deadly surprise attack on Oct 7, will be completed when there is "no longer a military threat from Gaza", and when "Hamas is unable to rule and function as a military force" in Gaza.

After the war ends, the Palestinians will govern Gaza, said Gallant. "Palestinians live in Gaza and therefore Palestinians will govern it in the future. The future Gaza government must grow out of the Gaza Strip," he said.

He said Gaza would be ruled by a future government that would be a "civilian alternative that cares about the welfare of residents of Gaza" and is not hostile to Israel. He insisted that Israeli forces would have the "freedom of operation" in the enclave in order to protect Israeli citizens.

Meanwhile in Gaza City, at least a dozen people were killed by tank shells, according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry. Above Khan Younis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip, clouds of black smoke were seen rising, and strikes were reported also in the refugee camp of Nuseirat.

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict has exceeded 24,100, said the health ministry.

The enclave also suffered widespread hunger, with video footage on social media showing hundreds of Gazans rushing toward an aid truck in the Gaza City.

Israel has imposed a total siege on Gaza and "a myriad of obstacles to the safe and orderly distribution of aid" has increased the severe humanitarian crisis, according to Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian woman, 24, and a man, 22, in Dura in the Hebron area amid clashes during an Israeli military raid. A third person, a 37-year-old man, was shot dead at a military checkpoint east of Tulkarem, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Since Oct 7, more than 300 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank.

In Ra'anana, a city northeast of Israel's Tel Aviv, a combined car-ramming and stabbing attack carried out by two Palestinians from Hebron killed an elderly woman and wounded 17 others, Israeli authorities said.

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as "a natural response to the occupation's massacres and its continued aggression against our Palestinian people".

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