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IDF chief says Israel ‘prepared to continue fighting,’ vows to ‘dismantle Hamas’ after cease-fire expires

Israel’s military chief shared his country’s priorities in the current Israel-Hamas war during a press briefing on Tuesday and revealed what the Israeli army intends to do after the current cease-fire expires.

Israeli army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi said Tuesday that Israel’s first goal was to secure the safe release of all Israeli hostages that Hamas took into Gaza during the Oct. 7 terror attack. He then said Israel would resume fighting when the temporary truce ends and vowed to ultimately eliminate Hamas’ rule in Gaza.

Halevi said Israeli negotiators have secured the release of 76 hostages, but many remain kidnapped. “Children, women, civilians and soldiers, who were kidnapped by Hamas, a murderous and merciless terrorist organization, and not all have yet returned. Each one who returns brings a great relief, but there is no ounce of relief in the fact that more remain. We will operate to bring them all back.

“The return of the hostages is a bright spot for all of us. It is also further evidence of the results of the significant military pressure and the resolute ground operation. We’ve created the conditions for the return of our citizens home. We will continue doing so,” he told reporters.

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Halevi also said Israel remains ready to resume fighting and that the cease-fire has only strengthened their “readiness” and operational planning.

“The [Isreali Defense Forces] IDF is prepared today to continue fighting. We are using the days of the pause as part of the framework to learn, strengthen our readiness and approve future operational plans,” he said.

An Israeli tank
A destroyed home in Gaza

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The military chief added, “We are preparing for the continuation of the operation to dismantle Hamas. It will take time, these are complex goals, but they are justified beyond measure.”

Herzi Halevi standing and listening to another officer

Israel’s readiness was tested Tuesday afternoon when its military reported several improvised explosives were detonated in an attempt to injure IDF troops. Israeli troops returned fire and both Israel and Hamas accused the other of violating the truce before calmer heads prevailed in keeping it intact.

Immediately after the apparent violation, negotiators and mediators agreed to resume the truce and even secured a deal to release additional hostages.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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