Israel’s Smotrich: Stopping Gaza War Now Would be Folly

A woman walks with a girl past the rubble of a destroyed building in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 8, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
A woman walks with a girl past the rubble of a destroyed building in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 8, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
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Israel’s Smotrich: Stopping Gaza War Now Would be Folly

A woman walks with a girl past the rubble of a destroyed building in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 8, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
A woman walks with a girl past the rubble of a destroyed building in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 8, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Monday it would be a huge mistake to stop Israel's military offensive in Gaza now.

Smotrich, who heads a pro-settler party which is part of Prime Minister Netanyahu's governing coalition, made the comment as Israeli officials continued talks via mediators about a possible ceasefire deal with Hamas.

He wrote on social media platform X: "Hamas is collapsing and begging for a ceasefire. This is the time to squeeze the neck until we crush and break the enemy. To stop now, just before the end, and let him recover and fight us again, is a senseless folly."

Several officials in the Middle East and the US believe the level of devastation in the Gaza Strip caused by the nine-month Israeli offensive likely has helped push Hamas to soften its demands for a ceasefire agreement.

Hamas over the weekend appeared to drop its longstanding demand that Israel promise to end the war as part of any ceasefire deal. The sudden shift has raised new hopes for progress in internationally brokered negotiations.

Netanyahu on Sunday boasted that military pressure — including Israel’s ongoing two-month offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah — “is what has led Hamas to enter negotiations.”



Israel Takes Advantage of Hezbollah’s Security Gap to Carry Out Assassinations

Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)
Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)
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Israel Takes Advantage of Hezbollah’s Security Gap to Carry Out Assassinations

Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)
Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)

The ongoing Israeli assassinations of Hezbollah fighters and leaders highlight a security and technological gap that the party has been unable to address.
On Thursday morning, Israeli drones killed a leader in Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, Mohammad Hamid Jabara from the town of Qaraoun, in a raid on the town of Gaza in the Bekaa region. Hours later, a member of Hezbollah was killed in an attack on his vehicle, shortly after he had left his mother’s house in the town of Jabal al-Butm in the South. The party mourned him in the afternoon.
Mostafa Asaad, a researcher in military and strategic affairs, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two assassinations were part of a long series of Israeli attacks against leaders of Hezbollah, Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, and the Hamas movement, throughout southern and eastern Lebanon.
But he added that the assassinations “are not linked to a political dimension”, although their pace decreases at times and intensifies at others. They are rather “a purely military calculation”, he said.
Asaad stressed that Hezbollah has not yet been able to “stop the breaches despite the encrypted transmission devices it uses, which are mostly Iranian devices developed using Chinese, Russian and North Korean models.”
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, which is close to the Hamas movement, was the target of several Israeli strikes. On June 22, the Israeli army killed a member whom it said was responsible for supplying weapons to his faction and its ally, the Hamas movement. The faction had mourned nine of its members, including senior officials, since the start of the escalation.
In a statement, the Israeli army said that it killed Mohammad Jabara, who has links with the Hamas organization in Lebanon and was assigned to promote and implement terrorist plans and launch operations from Lebanon towards Israeli territory, some of which in cooperation with Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya.
In the afternoon, Hezbollah mourned Hassan Muhanna, who was targeted by an Israeli drone in the Butm Mountains. Local media reported that a drone attacked his vehicle, before he got out of the car and hid among the trees, where he was hit by another missile that killed him.
On the other hand, Hezbollah announced that it had bombed the spy equipment at the Hadab Yarin site with appropriate weapons, which led to its destruction.
The Israeli army said that it carried out a raid on Hezbollah’s military infrastructure in the Ain al-Tineh area, and another attack on two of the party’s military sites in Qusayra and Maryamin.