Israeli national security adviser predicts war in Gaza will last to the end of the year


(JTA) — Tzachi Hanegbi, the national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, predicted that Israel’s war with Hamas would last until the end of the year, raising the specter of further bloodshed in what would be one of Israel’s longest wars.

The war continuing until January would also increase tension with the Biden administration, which is pressing for a ceasefire.

“Another seven months of fighting are ahead to deepen the achievement and obtain what we define as the destruction of Hamas’ governing and military capability,” Hanegbi told Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, on Wednesday. Israel invaded the city of Rafah earlier this month in what Netanyahu has described as the last major stage of the battle against Hamas.

The Biden administration has been seeking a temporary ceasefire that it hopes could lead to a more permanent end to hostilities.. It has principally blamed Hamas for not agreeing to ceasefire terms that would included the release of hostages the terror group still holds captive, in exchange for the release of Palestinian security prisoners. Hamas wants Israel to withdraw entirely from the strip.

John Kirby, the spokesman for the White House National Security Council, declined in a call with reporters to comment on Israel’s war plans, but said the White House favored a resolution sooner rather than later.

“We’ll let Israeli officials speak for themselves and for their assessments,” Kirby said when asked about Hanegbi’s remarks. “It’s a war that they’re fighting. I can tell you that President Biden is committed to seeing that we find a way to end this conflict and to end it as soon as practicable. We’ve got hostages that are still in the hands of Hamas, and potentially other groups under horrific circumstances. We’ve got to get them home.”

He said the hope was that a temporary ceasefire could become long-lasting. “We want to get them home in a deal tied to a ceasefire, a ceasefire that we believe if put in place could lead to something more sustainable and a potential end of the conflict,” he said.

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