The Israeli military expects the war against Hamas to continue through the end of 2024 and possibly even into 2025, an Israeli intelligence official told reporters on Tuesday.
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are currently engaged in the heaviest fighting around the city of Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza. The Israeli intelligence officer briefing reporters on Tuesday said the IDF has killed “at least a quarter” of Hamas’ estimated fighting force of 35,000, and at least another quarter are wounded, according to Bloomberg.
Hamas’ vast network of tunnels have allowed many of its troops and leaders to operate despite Israeli control of much of the territory.
The Israeli official said Israel remains far away from achieving its stated goals of capturing Hamas’ leaders and ammunition reserves and rendering Hamas military bases and tunnels inoperative, Bloomberg reported.
The city’s network of tunnels is even more expansive than that of Gaza City to the north. Israeli operations have also gathered extensive intelligence on how Hamas operates, particularly in how it coordinates rocket attacks against Israel.
For weeks, Hamas has remained capable of launching barrages into Israel even from areas largely under Israeli control. The intelligence officer stated that Hamas terrorists, once given the order, will bring a timed detonator to a pre-prepared launch site, prime the rockets, and then leave. Some time later, the battery of rockets will fire, according to Bloomberg.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the beginning of January that the war will last “many more months,” and vowed that Israel would not relent until Hamas is destroyed.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar remains at large, though he is believed to be somewhere within Khan Younis.
The IDF also detailed an operation on Monday in which it blew up a Hamas tunnel underneath a cemetery.
Israeli soldiers raided the tunnel system in the Bani Suheila neighborhood in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, finding explosives, sliding doors and blast-proof doors, the IDF said. Terrorists were still inside, according to the Israeli military, and were killed.
The tunnels housed the office of a Hamas commander, an operations room, and living quarters for senior members of Hamas, according to the IDF. It said the tunnel was used to plan attacks against the military, as well as the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
As Israel moves forward with a ground and air campaign in Gaza, Hamas officials in the besieged enclave say over 26,000 Palestinians have been killed.
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report