Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday ordered a “complete siege” of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, two days after shock attacks by the militant group killed more than 700 Israeli civilians.
Gallant is currently conducting an operational assessment at IDF (Israel Defence Forces) Southern Command, together with the Head of Southern Command Maj-Gen Yaron Finkelman.
“I have given an order — Gaza will be under complete siege. There will be no electricity, food or fuel [delivered to Gaza]. We are fighting barbaric [terrorists] and will respond accordingly,” Gallant was quoted in a statement as saying.
Gaza depends on Israel largely for its basic supplies and such a decision will have far-reaching consequences for 2.3 million people living in the densely populated area.
While Hamas activists looked celebrating on the street of the coastal territory on Saturday, wary commoners were seen looking to stock up basic needs speculating about the imminent harsh attack.
The streets of Gaza for the last two days have looked completely deserted, much like most Israeli towns in the south.
The “complete siege” of the coastal Strip comes amid unabated air strikes being carried out by Israel in which some 500 Palestinians are said to have been killed.
The spokesperson for Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, going by the nom de guerre Abu Obeida, claimed that Israel’s bombing in the Gaza Strip has killed four Israeli hostages.
More than 100 Israelis, old, young and children have been taken captive by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the attack which started on Saturday.
“The occupation’s bombing tonight and today on the Gaza Strip led to the killing of four enemy prisoners and the martyrdom of their captors, the Qassam Mujahideen,” Abu Obeida said in a statement on his Telegram channel.
Israel witnessed a surprise and unprecedented attack by Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, in its southern parts on Saturday morning. More than 700 people, including soldiers, have been killed and more than 2,100 injured in Israel — the deadliest war for the country in at least 50 years.
Israel’s minister of defence has been issuing stern warnings of a protracted fight since Saturday.
“Today we saw the face of evil. The Hamas [terrorist organization] has launched a brutal attack against the citizens of the State of Israel — attacking men, women, children and the elderly, indiscriminately. Hamas will understand very quickly that it has made a mistake — a grave mistake, and will pay a [heavy] price”, he said soon after the brutal attacks.
“Fifteen years ago, as head of the Southern Command, I came close to ‘breaking the neck’ [destroying] of Hamas. I was stopped by the political echelon. This phenomenon will not continue. We will change reality on the ground in Gaza for the next 50 years. What was before, will be no more. We will operate at full force,” Gallant asserted.
After more than 50 hours of firefight, the Israeli army claimed that it has regained control of all Gaza border towns, but said that some militants who infiltrated may be remaining around.
Israel has imposed various levels of blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
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