Israel has informed the U.S. that its current operation against Hamas, involving heavy air raids and extensive ground activity, is expected to wind down within the next two to three weeks, as per two U.S. officials.
One of these officials noted that this doesn’t signal the end of military actions. Instead, there will likely be a decrease in the intensity of the operations, focusing on more specific targets. This approach aims at tracking down the remaining Hamas leaders.
During a chat with national security advisor Jake Sullivan on Thursday, Israel’s defense minister mentioned that the war “will last more than several months.” He thinks the upcoming phase, focusing on specific raids, will probably be a lengthy one.
The U.S. is pushing Israel to better safeguard civilians during its attacks. This week, President Biden cautioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government’s international backing is slipping because of the “indiscriminate bombing” in crowded areas. Also, on Thursday, while at the National Institutes of Health, the president faced a question about whether he thinks Israel should dial down its military actions.
“I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives,” he said. “Not stop going after Hamas, but to be more careful.”
The Biden administration is facing increasing criticism for how it’s handling the war, including the U.S.’s decision not to push for a new ceasefire. The White House and Netanyahu believe that a new truce would just give Hamas militants a chance to regroup.
Health officials in Gaza, governed by Hamas, report over 18,000 fatalities in the recent conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues the intense bombings in southern Gaza, despite the high civilian death toll and uncertainty regarding more than 100 people believed to be still captive in the area.
Meanwhile, Israel’s military states that on October 7, Hamas militants were responsible for the deaths of 1,200 individuals and the abduction of over 200 in southern Israel. About half of these hostages have been freed, many during a week-long ceasefire.