Gaza must be ‘completely civilian’ but no quick options: ex-Israeli general – National |


The Gaza Strip needs to be “completely civilian,” but ousting militant group Hamas from the besieged territory could take “months,” according to a former Israeli general who spoke as Tel Aviv prepares for an expected ground operation.

“This takes months. It’s not a short operation,” reserve Brig.-Gen. Amir Avivi, a former Israel Defense Forces deputy commander of the Gaza division, said in an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson on Sunday.

“And at the end of the day, the Gaza Strip needs to be a completely civilian area,” he said.

“No terror infrastructure at all in the Gaza Strip in the future.”

Israeli forces have positioned themselves along the border with Gaza and drilled for what Israel said would be a campaign by air, land and sea to dismantle Hamas.

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Click to play video: 'Israel-Gaza conflict: Fears grow for hostages held by Hamas as ground invasion looms'

Israel-Gaza conflict: Fears grow for hostages held by Hamas as ground invasion looms

Israel is retaliating against a deadly multi-front attack launched by Hamas on Israeli border towns on Oct. 7. More than 1,300 people were killed during and since Hamas’ attack, including five Canadians.

More than 2,450 people have been killed in Gaza in the last week, the region’s health ministry said Sunday.

Meanwhile, cross-border clashes have flared along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon in recent days. Israel says the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group has fired rockets and Israeli forces have responded with shelling.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah is an ally of Gaza’s Hamas rulers and a significant political opponent of Israel.

Concerns are growing now that the conflict could spread, with Canadian officials from Global Affairs Canada warning during a technical briefing of the “unstable” security situation in Lebanon and emphasizing continuing efforts to evacuate Canadians from Israel.

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Avivi said “this is a global war” that has geopolitical implications for many countries.

“This is not about Israel. This is about the West. This is about the Russian-Iranian front that is challenging the West,” he said.

“And this is why the U.S. is bringing warships and getting involved and threatening Iran and Hezbollah not to intervene, and even showing willingness to fight,” Avivi added.

The U.S announced last weekend it is moving an aircraft carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean in a “deterrence posture” as fears of the conflict spreading grow.

Click to play video: 'Israel-Gaza conflict: U.S. calls for civilian protection'

Israel-Gaza conflict: U.S. calls for civilian protection

Avivi said Israeli forces will have their hands full if they enter Gaza in the anticipated ground offensive, saying that Hamas is well-equipped with drones, anti-tank missiles, improvised explosive devices, grenades, machines guns and tunnels.

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“We’ll have to maneuver very aggressively with a lot of air force assistance and artillery,” Avivi told Stephenson.

“We are ready as much as a country can be ready.”

Gaza running out of basic supplies

As the expected ground offensive nears, the humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip is worsening by the minute.

Israel has cut off supplies to the territory of food, fuel, medicines and other goods.

Water has run out at UN shelters across Gaza and thousands have packed into the courtyard of the besieged territory’s largest hospital as a refuge of last resort.

The Israeli military has ordered more than one million Palestinians – almost half of Gaza’s population – to move to the south of the territory.

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Medics in Gaza warned Sunday that thousands could die as hospitals packed with wounded people and other patients in critical care run desperately low on fuel and basic supplies.

Click to play video: 'Nowhere for Palestinians to go: human rights lawyer on Israel’s Gaza evacuation orders'

Nowhere for Palestinians to go: human rights lawyer on Israel’s Gaza evacuation orders

Zaha Hassan, a human rights lawyer, said there are 2,500 hospital beds in Gaza, and the biggest hospital, with 500 beds, is in the north, where people have been told to evacuate.

“Critical patients, people that have been wounded in this latest barrage, babies in incubators – they’re not able to move. They’re not able to go anywhere,” she said on The West Block.

Hassan said the situation in Gaza is “very critical.”

“How long can people stay without water of food? How long can they stay without medical support, medical supplies?” she asked.

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“How long can all these patients in the hospital survive, many of whom are critically wounded.

“This is a very critical time. The international community has to ask for a ceasefire, demand a cease fire, or we’re going to see a lot more Palestinians killed.”

— With files from the Associated Press 

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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