Israel has reiterated its bid to “destroy the Iranian proxy in Gaza” and focus on deterrence against other Iran-backed groups such as Hezbollah.
Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy told Iran International that the focus of the military offensive is “fighting the terror monsters who perpetrated the October 7 massacre,” not expanding into a regional conflict.
He stressed that in spite of heightening tensions on its northern border with Lebanon, Israel is not interested in fighting a war on two fronts, he added that they have “put up serious deterrence against Hezbollah in the north with a massive buildup of reserves.”
He emphasized that Lebanon’s Hezbollah “will be making the mistake of a lifetime” if it enters war as the consequences will be severe for both the Iran-backed militant group and the poverty-stricken state of Lebanon.
Levy also addressed the rising tensions in the West Bank. “Hamas launched the massacre with a grand vision... to spark a regional conflict,” he said, Hamas “calling on Palestinians in the West Bank to grab guns and knives and join the fighting."
Palestinian sources claim about 240 Palestinians have been killed since the Hamas operation while over 550 terror attacks have been launched by Palestinians, according to the IDF, many waged by Hamas.
Iran claims it did not play any role in the Hamas attacks of October 7 terror attack that triggered the current crisis, in spite of its having supported the militants financially and militarily for years, along with many others around the region from Iraq to Yemen.
The war, which followed the Hamas invasion on October 7 when thousands of militia killed at least 1,200 mostly civilians and took an additional 240 hostage, has also seen over 15,000 killed in retaliatory attacks in Gaza, with hundreds of thousands displaced. Israel pounded the enclave to uproot the Islamist group, which has made the war exceedingly bloody, hiding deep among the civilian population and in a vast underground tunnel network stretching around 500kms.
Israeli forces have begun operating in the southern area of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, where the population has been swollen by around one million refugees from northern areas and has faced heavy international pressure, including from Washington, to limit civilian casualties.
"We are going to continue with our campaign to destroy Hamas, a campaign that the United States sees eye to eye with us about the strategic objectives of this war, that this war cannot end with Hamas still standing," Levy said.
"We're moving ahead with the second stage now. A second stage that is going to be difficult militarily," noting that "We didn't pick the battlefield, Hamas picked the battlefield."