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Israeli Defense Minister: Military Campaign in Gaza “Will Be a Long War”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made the comment alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, and Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant make brief statements to the media at the Israeli Ministry of Defence on Tel Aviv, on October 16, 2023.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, speaking alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, indicated on Monday that Israel’s relentless and indiscriminate military campaign against Palestinians in Gaza will last a long time.

In a joint appearance, Gallant and Blinken reiterated the United States’ commitment to supporting Israel.

“Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming to Israel. We always know – knew that the United States is a great ally,” Gallant told Blinken in a statement.

Gallant went on to address Blinken directly:

Let me tell you, Mr. Secretary, this will be a long war; the price will be high. But we are going to win for Israel and the Jewish people, and for the values that both countries believe in.

Blinken didn’t respond directly to the indication that the war would be a long one, but reiterated the U.S.’s “deep commitment to Israel’s right – indeed, its obligation – to defend itself and to defend its people.”

“You have and always have the support of the United States,” Blinken added.

On October 9, the day after Israel formally declared war on Hamas following Hamas’s surprise attacks on Israelis, Gallant claimed that Israel is “fighting human animals” — language that commentators have condemned as unequivocally genocidal. One Israeli parliamentarian has also called for a “Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48,” referring to the violent, systemic expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in the 1940s.

Since then, Israel has dropped internationally prohibited white phosphorus on civilians in Gaza, leveled residential neighborhoods, wiped entire Palestinian families off the population registry, and blocked food, water, medicine and fuel from entering Gaza. As of Monday, Israeli airstrikes have killed 2,750 Palestinians and wounded at least 9,700. A third of the casualties are children.

Israeli officials have also demanded that over 1.1 million Palestinians in Gaza — one of the most densely populated places in the world — evacuate from the north to the south of the region, likely in preparation for a ground-based Israeli military operation.

Doctors and international organizations have noted that the situation is especially dire for hospitals and other health care centers in Gaza, with the order essentially amounting to a death sentence for patients in critical care, as they cannot move without serious risk to their lives.

“The hospitals are overwhelmed. The number of wounded is extremely high, with a constant influx of patients in all the hospitals in the Gaza Strip. Medical teams are exhausted, working around the clock to treat the wounded,” Léo Cans, Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders head of mission in Palestine, said last week.

“It’s absolutely impossible to evacuate the hospital,” Muhammad Abu Salima, director of Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, told The New York Times. “There is nowhere in Gaza that can accept the number of patients in our intensive care unit or neonatal intensive care unit or even the operating rooms.”

President Joe Biden also warned Israel against long-term plans to occupy Gaza.

“I think it’d be a big mistake,” Biden said on CBS News’s “60 Minutes” program over the weekend. “Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that … it would be a mistake … for Israel to occupy … Gaza again.”

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