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Middle East

Gaza War is getting closer to its next phase, but it's still not over

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  • The intense phase of Israel's military offensive in Gaza is nearing its end, but the broader conflict continues.
  • Humanitarian conditions in Gaza are dire, with severe food shortages and widespread displacement.
  • Israel is shifting its focus to the northern border with Lebanon, where tensions with Hezbollah are escalating.

As the Gaza conflict enters its next phase, the prospect of a resolution remains elusive. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that while the intense phase of the military offensive in Gaza is nearing its end, the broader conflict is far from over. This shift in focus comes amid escalating tensions on Israel's northern border with Lebanon, where the militant group Hezbollah has been increasingly active.

The Current State of the Gaza Conflict

The Israeli military has been engaged in a prolonged offensive in the Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas militants who have launched numerous attacks on Israeli territory. The city of Rafah, located in the southernmost part of Gaza, has been a focal point of these operations. Prime Minister Netanyahu recently stated, "The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end. It doesn't mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah".

Despite the nearing end of this phase, the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of at least 37,598 people, with many more injured and displaced. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued warnings about acute malnutrition among thousands of children in the region, exacerbated by severe food shortages.

Shifting Focus to the Northern Border

As the situation in Gaza evolves, Israel's attention is increasingly turning to its northern border with Lebanon. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militant group, has been launching missiles, mortars, and drones into Israeli territory, prompting fears of a potential all-out war. Tens of thousands of residents in northern Israel and southern Lebanon have been displaced due to the ongoing hostilities.

Netanyahu has emphasized that any troop movements to the northern border will be primarily for defensive purposes. "After the intense phase is finished, we will have the possibility to move part of the forces north. And we will do this. First and foremost for defensive purposes. And secondly, to bring our [evacuated] residents home," he stated.

International and Domestic Reactions

The international community has been closely monitoring the developments in Gaza and along the Israel-Lebanon border. The United States, a key ally of Israel, has expressed concerns over the humanitarian impact of the conflict and has called for a ceasefire. However, Netanyahu has been resistant to these calls, stating that the war will continue until Hamas is completely uprooted from Gaza.

Domestically, Netanyahu faces significant pressure from both supporters and critics. Tens of thousands of Israelis have rallied against his government, demanding early elections and a deal to return the captives held in Gaza. The strained relationship between Israel and the U.S. has also been a point of contention, with Netanyahu accusing the Biden administration of delaying critical arms supplies, a claim that has been refuted by U.S. officials.

The Path Forward

As the Gaza conflict moves into its next phase, the path to a lasting resolution remains fraught with challenges. The Israeli government has proposed the establishment of a civilian administration in Gaza, potentially with local Palestinian and international support, to manage humanitarian aid and civilian affairs. However, the ongoing military operations and the complex political landscape make the future uncertain.

In the words of Netanyahu, "The goal is to return the kidnapped and uproot the Hamas regime in Gaza". Whether this goal can be achieved without further escalation and loss of life remains to be seen.

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