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THE Israeli military needs AT LEAST another two months to complete the first stage of its war against Hamas, a senior defence official says.
This comes despite US President Joe Biden reportedly imposing a three-week deadline on Israel’s offensive in war-torn Gaza.
Israel’s final showdown with Hamas kicked off earlier this week as its tanks roared into southern Gaza’s Khan Younis where it is believed Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, the “mastermind” of the October 7 massacres, is hiding along with his “henchmen”.
IDF official Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told The Sun that Sinwar, known as “Gaza’s Bin Laden”, is at the very top of Israel’s kill list.
And Israel’s military chiefs confirmed it will not end its renewed offensive until he is dead.
Fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas which erupted after the terror group brutally murdered 1,200 men, women, and children on October 7 has led to the deaths of more than 17,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-runministry.
Last night, the US vetoed a United Nations resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza where Palestinian civilians are facing what the UN chief calls a “humanitarian nightmare”.
Aid agencies have warned already-dire conditions in the besieged enclave are worsening by the hour with most of its 2.3 million residents trapped with limited resources, while Washington continues to urge Israel to increase the flow of aid into Gaza.
President Biden was this week said to have given Israel until the end of the year to wrap up its war on Hamas, according to three officials in Tel Aviv who spoke to Politico on condition of anonymity.
But a senior Israeli defence official has reportedly claimed the IDF needs three to four weeks to finish its offensive in Khan Younis and the same length of time to end “the high-intensity phase” of the war.
The official told Axios that Israel’s military forces “have made significant progress” in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, but the operation in the southern city of Khan Younis “has just started”.
They said the US isn’t “pulling the brakes” or giving Israel a firmto end its operation in Gaza but has stressed that time is running out, the publication reports.
It comes after White House national security aide Jon Finer said on Thursday: “We have not given a firm deadline to Israel, not really our role. This is their conflict.
“That said, we do have influence, even if we don’t have ultimate control over what happens on the ground in Gaza.”
The senior Israeli defence official told Axios there was about a one-month difference between the finish date set by the Biden administration and that expected by the Israeli government.
According to the official, the US would like Israel to finish its intensive operations by the end of the month but Israel believes it needs until at least the end of January.
They were quoted as saying: “The US message is that they would want us to finish faster, with less civilian casualties and more humanitarian aid to Gaza.
“We want the same thing, but there is another player here and this is the enemy that doesn’t agree. The US understands this. We are working together. We need them and they need us.”
A spokesperson for the National Security Council reportedly said: “These are Israeli military operations, and the Israelis will decide their course. We will continue to support Israel’s efforts to defend itself from Hamas terrorists.”
Bloody battle between the IDF and Hamas continued in northern Gaza last night through to today with Israeli troops claiming to have killed a group of terrorist gunmen they encountered in a school.
They alleged to have found a collection of weapons and military equipment stored inside the school’s classrooms.
In the same neighbourhood of Shejaiya, they claimed to have destroyed a tunnel shaft which was part of a “wide” network that included an elevator.
The IDF is reportedly planning to pump seawater into Hamas’ sprawling underground maze of tunnels to flush out the terrorists it claims have been hiding in them since theOctober 7 attacks.
Israeli military further alleged to have killed a number of Hamas operatives in an airstrike at Shejaiya overnight while coming under fire by terrorists hiding in a mosque and school at Beit Hanoun.
Politico reported yesterday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel likely had weeks, not months, to end the fighting.
The publication said Israeli officials spoke to Blinken this week about fighting in southern Gaza lasting several months, to which the senior US official reportedly hit back: “You don’t have that much credit.”