Israel outlines three-phase plan to overthrow Hamas in Gaza | International

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After 13 days of massive aerial bombardments and on the verge of launching a ground invasion, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant provided this Friday the most detailed explanation of his country's political and military plans in Gaza. It is a three-phase plan, which would conclude with “the establishment of a new security reality for the citizens of Israel”, without permanently deploying soldiers in the Strip to manage the day-to-day life of its 2.3 million. population. In 2005, the government of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon evacuated the 8,000 settlers and soldiers it had in Gaza, which had captured Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel, Gallant explained, is now in the first phase: “a military campaign that includes bombings and later will include maneuvers [terrestres]with the aim of neutralizing terrorists and destroying Hamas infrastructure.” Military aviation is bombing the Strip "at a rate not seen in decades" to "prepare the ground" for the ground invasion and is making small raids in order to "obtain information about the hostages" in the Strip, the army spokesman, Daniel Hagari, in his daily appearance before the media at headquarters in Tel Aviv. The attacks have caused 4,137 deaths and more than 13,000 injuries, according to figures provided this Friday by the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Gallant assured the troops deployed on the border this Thursday that they will “soon” see Gaza “from within.”

The second phase “will require lower intensity operations, with the objective of eliminating the strongholds of resistance,” Gallant said in a meeting at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv, with members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Israeli Parliament. That is, maintaining troops on the ground to put an end to the insurgency, which would predictably act in a less organized manner.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant addresses a group of soldiers near the Gaza border on October 19. ABIR SULTAN (EFE)

The last phase would consist of the “removal of Israel's responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a new security reality for the citizens of Israel.” Gallant did not explain to whom the management of the administration of the Strip would be transferred, once the Hamas Government was overthrown.

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Technically, Israel still has responsibility for the population of Gaza. The territory was no longer considered under military occupation after the 2005 withdrawal, because Israel maintains control of its air and maritime spaces. Israel defends that this is not the case because it no longer has troops or settlers on the ground and because all of Gaza is zone A, that is, the one that remains under administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority (PNA), under the Agreements of Oslo signed in 1993. Since 2007, the PA has no control over Gaza after Hamas took power there by expelling forces loyal to the rival Fatah faction. A year earlier, the Islamist movement had won the elections, but the international community did not recognize the new government because it refused to recognize Israel and explicitly renounce violence.

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