As the 100th day of the war begins in the bombed-out Gaza Strip and the horrific suffering of the population as well as the hostages held underground continues, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the army leadership are confident of victory. “Nobody will stop us,” said the under-pressure head of government in Tel Aviv.
At a mass rally that began there that evening, relatives of the hostages accused Netanyahu's government of not doing enough to secure their release, the Times of Israel reported. Meanwhile, thousands called for an end to the fighting in pro-Palestinian protest marches in Washington, London, Paris and other cities.
Israel's government: Hamas planned terrorist attacks in Europe
After the arrest of three suspected Hamas members in Germany in mid-December, Israel's government claims to have discovered that the extremist Palestinian organization was also planning terrorist attacks in Europe. One of the possible targets is said to have been the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. "As a result of sustained intelligence efforts, a significant amount of information emerged proving that the terrorist organization Hamas aimed to expand its violent activities abroad to attack innocent people around the world," Netanyahu's office said.
UN aid agency laments “100 days of death and destruction”
The UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA renewed its appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. “Mass death, destruction, displacement, hunger, loss and grief have stained the humanity we all share over the last 100 days,” UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini wrote in a statement. The vast majority of people, including children, are deeply traumatized. 1.4 million internally displaced people would live in desperately overcrowded emergency accommodation with inadequate sanitary facilities. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 23,000 people have been killed in the sealed-off coastal area so far.
Netanyahu: Continue fighting until complete victory
"We will continue the war to the end - to complete victory, until we have achieved all of our goals: eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to Israel," Netanyahu said. Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said the same evening that military pressure on Hamas must be maintained to free the hostages.
However, a growing number of family members are pushing back against this stance, pointing out that no hostages have been released since Israel resumed fighting following a week-long ceasefire in late November, according to the Times of Israel. The rally in Tel Aviv was scheduled to last 24 hours until Sunday evening.
This Sunday marks 100 days of war in the coastal area on the Mediterranean sealed off by Israel. The trigger was the devastating terrorist attack on Israel by the Islamist Hamas and other extremist groups on October 7th. More than 1,200 people were killed and around 250 others were kidnapped into the Gaza Strip. Israel responded with massive air strikes and a ground offensive.
Report: Israel still far from war goals
However, according to the Haaretz newspaper, Israel is still a long way from achieving its war goals. One reason given by the Israeli newspaper was that Israel was surprised by the extent of Hamas's tunnels under Gaza. The underground passages are more sophisticated than expected. The Hamas leadership is relatively well protected from attacks. She probably surrounds herself with the hostages. It is therefore difficult to defeat Hamas.
Another exchange of fire on Israel's border with Lebanon
Meanwhile, there was renewed mutual shelling on the border between Israel and Lebanon on Sunday night. A terrorist cell entered Israeli territory from Lebanon and fired on patrolling soldiers, the army said. The soldiers returned fire, killing four terrorists. Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there have been repeated confrontations at the border between Israel's army and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia. It is allied with Hamas, but is considered significantly more powerful.
What will be important on Sunday
As fighting in the Gaza Strip continues into its 100th day, aid organizations lament the continued catastrophic humanitarian situation in the coastal area. They are calling for a ceasefire and more aid deliveries, which must also reach the coastal area unhindered.