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War on Gaza: Israeli commander vows to flatten 'entire' Gaza Strip

Israeli commander says the rest of Gaza will be reduced to rubble like the northern city of Beit Hanoun
Destroyed buildings lie in ruin in the Gaza Strip, 21 December 2023 (Reuters)

An Israeli commander has pledged that the "entire" Gaza Strip will be razed to the ground.

Yair Ben David, a commander in the 2908th Battalion, said in a video posted on social media, that they had “entered Beit Hanoun and did there as Shimon and Levi did in Nablus,” referring to the biblical story in which all the male inhabitants of the city were massacred.

“The entire Gaza should resemble Beit Hanoun,” he added, referring to the ruined city in northern Gaza.

“Gaza must look like Beit Hanoun today.”

David said that the destruction was “only the beginning” and would instil “fear among the nations around us, in the cities of Lebanon, in the cities of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and among all those sitting around us who think it's possible to harm the dignity of the people of Israel.”

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On Wednesday, the Israeli army said it was concluding offensives in "Jabalia, Beit Hanoun, Shejaiya, and Daraj-Tuffah,” in northern Gaza. 

Following Israeli evacuation orders, the majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million population fled to designated “safe” areas in the south. 

But southern cities like Khan Younis have emerged as one of the main battlegrounds of the conflict.

More than two months of relentless Israeli bombardment and ground offensives that began after a surprise Hamas offensive on 7 October have pulverised the besieged Strip, killing over 20,000 people and displacing more than 85 percent of the population. More than a third of Gaza’s homes have been destroyed.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed on Thursday that there were no functional hospitals left in northern Gaza, with only nine out of 26 health facilities “partially functioning”- all of them based in the south.

On Monday, Israeli politician David Azoulay called for the forced displacement of Palestinians to Lebanon and the flattening of Gaza, which he said should be turned into a museum "just like in Auschwitz," the Nazi concentration camp in Poland. 

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that combating terrorism did not mean "to flatten Gaza

"We cannot let the idea take root that an efficient fight against terrorism implies to flatten Gaza or attack civilian populations indiscriminately," Macron told the France 5 broadcaster.

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