Israel Announces Next Stage in 'Second War of Independence'

Netanyahu says goals are destroying Hamas and freeing hostages
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2023 2:13 PM CDT
Israel Announces Next Stage of 'Second War of Independence'
Palestinians inspect the damage caused by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)

The second stage of the war against Hamas has begun, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Saturday. That appears to mean a sustained ground invasion of Gaza, the New York Times reports, though Netanyahu didn't put it that way. He said at a news conference that Israeli forces had entered Gaza on Friday evening. With Minister Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at his side, the prime minister declared Israel is fighting "our second war of independence"—an allusion, per CNN, to the war sparked when five Arab nations attacked after Israel declared its sovereignty in 1948. This war will be long and difficult, he warned Israelis. The goals, Netanyahu said, are to destroy the military and government operations of Hamas and win the release of the hostages it is holding in Gaza.

Before the news conference, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, met with families of hostages taken in Hamas' attack on Oct. 7, per the Washington Post. "We will exercise and exhaust every possibility to bring them home," he told the group. Netanyahu said the likelihood of the hostages' release will increase as the ground offensive pressures Hamas. A representative of the families said they would favor a prisoner swap. Hamas has proposed releasing the hostages in exchange for Israel freeing all Palestinians held in Israeli jails. It wasn't clear if Netanyahu discussed the possibility with the families, per the AP, and the government has made no public comment on it.

As the invasion began, Israel's stepped-up aerial and artillery bombardment of Gaza took out communications there, per the AP, causing a near-total information blackout. Gallant said "the ground shook in Gaza" under the fire. A spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, said Saturday that internet and cellular service has been cut off, which has "totally paralyzed" the health network. An Israeli spokesman said Saturday night that the military is "gradually increasing its ground activity in the Gaza Strip and the scale of its forces," per the Times. He also framed the offensive as a way to pressure Hamas on the hostages. "It will take time," he said. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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