Israeli Military Says End of Operation not in Sight

The Israeli military said on Monday that the ongoing operation against Hamas was nowhere near conclusion.

Monday marked the eighth day of intense fighting between Israel and the Hamas.

The Israeli military said it conducted a third round of airstrikes against Hamas militant tunnels, also targeting the homes of nine alleged commanders of the militant organisation.

Rockets continued to be fired Monday morning at southern Israeli population centres on the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israel has thus far conducted the operation largely through its air force, without using ground troops, according to a senior air force official from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

“I would not rule anything out of possibility at this stage,’’ said the senior official speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We will stop when there are zero launches towards Israel.’’

The Gaza Strip has been under heavy Israeli fire since Hamas launched a missile attack against Jerusalem a week ago.

Israel responded with intensive airstrikes, with the operation dubbed by the military “Guardians of the Walls.’’

According to a senior air force official, hundreds of targets have been hit, including hundreds of kilometers of tunnels beneath the Gaza Strip, which the military says are used for Hamas’ operations against Israel.

Since the beginning of the round of violence, over 3,000 rockets have been fired into the Israeli territory. Israel estimates Hamas has around 15,000 rockets in its arsenal.

The official said the IDF has also thwarted six attempts by Hamas to send armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into Israel in order to attack civilian targets.

The military has come under harsh criticism in recent days after it struck a building housing leading media organisations including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

The IDF claims the high-rise building was home to ‘significant’ Hamas military infrastructure including communication, command and control “used to manage and coordinate Hamas forces and collect intelligence.’’

On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City killed 42 Palestinians.

“Sometimes there is a collateral damage and this is very unfortunate. We are appalled and sorry for every life lost,’’ said the senior official in a briefing for foreign journalists.

According to the military, the airstrikes that has targeted Hamas’ underground infrastructure has caused several buildings to collapse as a result of the heavy munition used to penetrate the underground targets.

“The targets were not the buildings that collapsed, but the Hamas ‘metro’ underground infrastructure,’’ the official added.

“This is a very complex balance between the value of the target and the value we see to human life and the overall strategic target of crippling Hamas’ capabilities.’’

Almost 200 Palestinians, including tens of children, have been killed in the current round of fighting.

Eight Israelis, a child included, have also been killed.

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