Gazans Cannot Return in the North until Hamas Frees Captives – Israeli Army Officers

Israeli tanks along the Gaza Border. (Photo: via Twitter)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

More than 100 Israeli military commanders and officers have demanded not to withdraw from the northern Gaza Strip until the release of all captives held by the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas. 

The demand was made in a letter signed by 130 members of the army addressed to the war cabinet and military Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevi, according to Israeli media reports. 

 The letter addresses “the two main goals of the IDF in this war: the total destruction of Hamas and the successful release of all of the hostages,” reports the Jerusalem Post. 

It then reportedly focuses on recent developments, including the withdrawal of certain brigades from the enclave, questioning whether “the goals that we set out to accomplish” were achieved.

Failure to achieve ‘overwhelming victory’

Last week, the Israeli army withdrew its 36th Division from northern Gaza for rest and training, while three other divisions remained in the Palestinian territory.

Previously, it also withdrew the Golani Brigade after 60 days of fighting, in which it reportedly suffered heavy losses. 

The report further states that the soldiers “proceeded to answer its own question by stating that the IDF and the Israeli government failed to turn the numerous small victories achieved around the Gaza Strip into an “overwhelming victory” to a systematic and strategic extent.”

The report continues that the officers argued: “Simply, the achievements until now have been significant but not enough to truly claim ‘mission accomplished.’” 

They said that since the captives have not been freed, “there is no reason for Ahmed to return to his home in Gaza before Ziv and Gali return to their home in Kfar Aza.”

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No Humanitarian Supplies’

According to the Israel National News website, the officers asked “the cabinet to act to make sure that “the IDF completes the work of evacuating the residents from Gaza City, does not allow humanitarian supplies and the operation of hospitals inside Gaza City, and makes sure that the residents do not return to their homes until the hostages are released.’”

According to the Israeli YNET News, “they stress the importance of fulfilling the mission of evacuating the population from the combat zone in the northern Gaza Strip and subsequently securing a comprehensive blockade.” 

The report continues that “The officers explained that once the process of clearing the strip is completed, an official announcement must be made that the residents of Gaza City cannot return to their homes until all the hostages are released.”

They reportedly wrote: “It’s such a simple and necessary equation.”

The signatories claim that preventing Palestinians from returning to their homes, “would provide the IDF with a number of benefits”, the Jerusalem Post reports.

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These “benefits” listed in the letter included “maintaining favorable fighting conditions in Gaza for IDF troops, preventing Hamas from disguising themselves as innocent civilians, keeping immense pressure on Hamas, and allowing the IDF to remain on the offensive instead of responding to Hamas’s actions,” the report continues.

‘We Don’t Come Back until We Win’

The letter reportedly concludes by urging the government to make the decision and to allow the army  to continue until the goals are achieved, stating, “We don’t come back until we win.” 

Since October 7, 2023, up to 1.9 million Palestinians (or over 85 percent of the population) have been displaced across the Gaza Strip, some multiple times, according to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

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This includes “160,000 in the north and Gaza City and approximately 400,000 in close vicinity of these installations and receiving assistance from UNRWA,” the agency said.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 25,295 Palestinians have been killed, and 63,000 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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