Live updates on Israel-Hamas war: Blinken visits Israel | ET REALITY


As gaps between Israeli and international perceptions of the war against Hamas in Gaza widen, the Israeli leadership has crafted divergent messages for the two audiences about how the war will be conducted in 2024.

Israeli officials have begun telling international media that their forces are moving to a less intense phase of operations, particularly in northern Gaza, amid growing international alarm over the scale of destruction and civilian casualties in the territory.

On Monday, Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in an interview with The New York Times that the war had entered a new phase, with Israel withdrawing its troops, focusing on the southern regions of Gaza and decreasing the number of air attacks. Hours earlier, Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, had told the Wall Street Journal that Israel would soon move from “intense maneuvers” to “different types of special operations.”

But after those comments were published, both men sought Monday night to reassure the Israeli public that Israel remained committed to a long-term war in Gaza even as its military tactics were changing.

At his daily Hebrew press briefing Monday night, Admiral Hagari responded to a question about his interview with The Times by saying that the goal of dismantling Hamas remained in place and that the “semantics” of whether the war had entered into a new stage The phase “does not serve the Israeli public.”

Separately, Israeli media reported that Gallant had told his fellow right-wing lawmakers, in a closed-door meeting, that the war would continue “for many more months” and that for that to happen, Israel needed a “margin.” of advantage.” international maneuver.” Mr. Gallant’s office confirmed the comments.

The comments to international media also appeared to be an effort to heed calls from the United States, Israel’s strongest ally, to ease the fighting, and came hours before U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken , will land in Tel Aviv for discussions about the war. The Biden administration has been under pressure to reduce its support for Israel, and Blinken has previously called on Israel to use more precision in its attacks on Gaza.

Yoav Limor, a military commentator, wrote in Israel Hayom, a right-wing newspaper, that “the Israeli government locked itself into contradictory commitments: commitments it made to the Israeli public, saying that there would be no time limit and that the war would continue as long as as necessary until victory; and the commitments he made to the world, first of all with the Washington administration, saying that the war was now moving to a new stage of lower intensity.”

Analysts said the messages are not incompatible: The pace of a war can slow without the conflict ending completely. But they said they reflected the Israeli government’s effort to appease an international audience in the short term to achieve its long-term goals.

While most Israelis want to see Hamas destroyed after its brutal October 7 attack on Israel, international public opinion has turned against Israel. More than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its offensive, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Adding to the pressure on Israel is a hearing scheduled for this week at the International Court of Justice in a case, brought by South Africa, that accuses Israel of attempting genocide against the Palestinians. Israeli officials have strongly denied the allegation.

“With all of this put together, Israel wants to give an image of, ‘OK, we’ve accepted the criticism, we’ve integrated and incorporated the feedback,'” Alon Pinkas, Israel’s former consul general in New York and political commentator, said in an interview.

On the contrary, he said, the Israeli mainstream does not want to hear that the war is coming to an end while Hamas remains active in much of Gaza. Israelis, he added, “understand that very little has been achieved, if the idea was to eliminate, eradicate, annihilate, annihilate or overthrow Hamas.”

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