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Updated Nov 14, 2023, 5:53pm EST
securityMiddle East
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Israeli defense minister says ground invasion will include southern Gaza

Yoav Gallant
REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
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Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reportedly told an IDF-operated radio news service Tuesday that the country’s ground invasion of Gaza will be months-long and include the southern part of the enclave, where around a million Palestinians were ordered to flee to as Israel began its bombardment of the north.

“The maneuver will last for many months - and it will include both the north and the south,” Gallant told the radio news service GLZ. “We will dismantle Hamas wherever it is. Hamas is getting eroded.”

The IDF did not immediately respond to Semafor’s request for confirmation regarding Gallant’s statement.

The IDF has repeatedly targeted southern Gaza via airstrikes despite ordering Palestinians from northern Gaza to evacuate there.

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In defending its airstrikes on southern Gaza, Israel claims that there are “legitimate targets” of militants living near civilian homes all across the enclave. “The so-called private home is not a private home,” a senior Israeli air force officer told reporters last month. The UN estimates that as of Oct. 24, there has been a mass displacement of at least 1.4 million Palestinians away from the north, and many who can still leave continue to flee towards the south. “These people hope and have been told that by fleeing south they may lose their homes, but they will save their lives,” PBS NewsHour’s Leila Molana-Allen said after traveling within Gaza with the IDF. “But Gazans who have already reached the south say the bombardment there is nearly as bad and the living conditions unbearable,” she added, with many fearing the worst is yet to come.

Deteriorating conditions at makeshift camp settlements in south Gaza are raising fears of a looming health crisis. The refugee exodus from northern Gaza coincides with the start of the rainy season, and health experts say flooding risks overwhelming the enclave’s already damaged sewage system and spreading disease. World Health Organization officials told Al Jazeera that there are already over 30,000 recorded cases of diarrheal infections compared to an expected 2,000 cases during non-war time.

While millions have fled to the south, Gaza City’s largest hospital, and now one of its largest refugee camps, presents “Israel’s biggest moral challenge,” writes Haaretz’ Ronny Linder. Israel claims that the Al-Shifa hospital in the western part of Gaza City is the headquarters of Hamas leaders, and on Tuesday, the White House said it has its own intelligence to corroborate these claims. Israeli officials have not denied that it is considering potentially bombing or attacking the hospital and has requested some European countries to help build field and ship hospitals as alternatives to Al-Shifa. While Hamas’ alleged use of hospitals would be a war crime, “bombing a hospital is an action that is considered extreme, and the goal must be very just and clear,” said a researcher and war ethics expert at the Tel Aviv University.

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