IDF spokesman says no end to Israel-Hamas fighting in sight
The international spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said Wednesday that there is no sign that fighting between the nation and the militant group Hamas may be drawing to a close.
During an interview on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said it currently appears that things are trending in the opposite direction.
“The only signs that we have been getting today are approximately 250 rockets fired from the early morning hours until just an hour ago across all of southern Israel and even some parts of central Israel. So if you are talking about signs, signs indicate that Hamas intends to continue to escalate the situation here,” Conricus said.
Violence between Israel and Hamas broke out again last week following Israeli police action at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is considered to be one of the holiest sites in Islam. Tensions were then intensified by an impending high court hearing, which has since been postponed, on potential eviction orders in a predominately Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem.
Hamas began firing rockets into Israel on May 10, which was followed by Israeli retaliation. The death toll of the recent bloodshed is in the hundreds.
President Biden on Wednesday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expects a “significant de-escalation” in the violence to put the two sides “on the path to a cease-fire,” according to a readout of the call from the White House.
Netanyahu, however, responded by saying Israel is “determined to continue” military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
When asked by Mitchell if the U.S.’s expectation is “something that has to be ignored,” Conricus responded, “By no means. That is extremely important.”
“I am not part of that, but from the military level, of course we seek nothing more than stability, quiet and safety towards our civilians. As soon as the rocket fire stops, I am sure that will be the main enabler that will take us to the next stage. Perhaps we will speak about that kind of things but until that happens our job is to continue to defend,” he said.
On Sunday, Netanyahu said in an interview that Israeli forces are “trying to degrade Hamas’s terrorist abilities,” though critics of his government say the military is failing to adequately avoid Palestinian civilian casualties.
When asked if Israeli forces are getting closer to degrading Hamas’s stockpile of weapons, Conricus said he is satisfied with the progress so far.
“So far we are quite happy with the effect on their capabilities, especially the long-term capabilities, but there is still a lot of work to do to send a clear, resounding messages to Hamas that their aggression, the fact that they attacked us, is something we will not tolerate now and it will not hold for the future,” Conricus said.
He added that Hamas has, over the years, amassed a “quite amazing arsenal of rockets capable of reaching almost everywhere in Israel.”
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