A total defeat of Hamas would also clear the way for the liberation of 138 hostages still held by the Islamists, he said.
Meanwhile as Israeli soldiers continue their attempts to rescue the hostages held in Gaza, a 25-year-old Israeli man who was abducted on Oct. 7 has died, according to statements released on Saturday.
“It is with deep sorrow and a broken heart that we announce the murder of Sahar Baruch (25) who was kidnapped from his home by Hamas terrorists on October 7th,” Kibbutz Be’eri, where Baruch lived, and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum Headquarters said in a joint statement.
Renewed fighting also took place on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, after militants reportedly launched rockets from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory.
The Israeli military said retaliatory strikes were carried out.
There were initially no reports of casualties on either side.
Lebanese security sources told dpa that the border village of Aita al-Shaab was hit by heavy air strikes during the night.
The sources believed that mainly Hezbollah members were there at the time.
The Hezbollah-affiliated broadcaster Al Mayadeen reported that several houses in the village were destroyed.
The Lebanese TV station Al-Manar, which is run by the political wing of Hezbollah, reported that other villages in the border area had also been hit by Israeli fire.
Hezbollah itself did not immediately comment on the strikes.
Israel’s military spoke of “terror targets,” including Hezbollah command and control centres.
Since the start of the current war in Gaza, there have been repeated confrontations between Israel’s army and militant groups including Hezbollah in the Israeli-Lebanese border region.
It is the most serious escalation since the 2006 war in Lebanon.
The war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel’s history, carried out by terrorists from the Islamist Hamas and other extremist groups on Oct. 7 near Israel’s border with Gaza.
More than 1,200 people were killed on the Israeli side, including at least 850 civilians, according to the Israeli government.
According to the latest figures from the Health Ministry in Gaza, almost 17,700 people have been killed in Israel’s counter-attacks.
A further 48,780 people were injured, said Ashraf al-Kudra, spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health. (dpa/NAN)