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Israel eyes 'total victory' as over half of Hamas already wiped out — Netanyahu

The prime minister added that if Israel does not achieve a "total victory" in the Gaza Strip, Iran will reap the benefits

TEL AVIV, February 5. /TASS/. Israel has already neutralized more than half of the armed detachments of the radical Palestinian Hamas movement during the operation in the Gaza Strip and does not intend to stop until it achieves total victory, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to a military base.

Speaking to the servicemen, Netanyahu praised their high morale and opined that victory in the Gaza Strip "is on its way." "According to our calculations, we have already destroyed, meaning killed or wounded, more than half of their [Hamas] forces, we have eliminated 18 of their 24 battalions, we are engaged in vigorous mop-up operations and raids against the rest of the terrorists <...>. We are on our way to ultimate victory, so I want to tell you that we are committed to that and we are certainly not going to give up. We will not end the war without achieving total victory that will restore security to both the south and the north [of Israel]," Netanyahu said.

However, the prime minister suggested that if Israel does not achieve a "total victory" in the Gaza Strip, Iran will reap the benefits. "A final victory is important because it guarantees Israel's security. A total victory is the only route by which we can establish more of the historic peace agreements, which are already visible. A total victory would deal a mortal blow to the axis of evil consisting of Iran, [Shiite movement] Hezbollah, the Houthis [Yemen's rebellious Ansar Allah movement] and, of course, Hamas," Netanyahu said.

"Hence, there is no substitute for total victory, and we can only imagine what will happen if we don't achieve that: the Israelis who were evacuated [from the border areas] will not return, the next massacre will only be a matter of time, while Iran, Hezbollah and others will simply celebrate and destroy the Middle East. So, there is no alternative to total victory," he added.

Tensions flared up again in the Middle East on October 7, 2023, when militants from the Gaza Strip-based radical Palestinian movement Hamas staged a surprise attack on Israeli territory from Gaza, killing residents of Israeli border settlements and taking over 240 hostages, including women, children and the elderly. Hamas described its attack as a response to the aggressive actions of Israeli authorities against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. In response, Israel declared a total blockade of the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million Palestinians before the crisis, and has been delivering air strikes on Gaza as well as some parts of Lebanon and Syria. Clashes have also been reported on the West Bank.