Hamas Starts New Year by Firing Rocket Barrages at Israeli Civilians, Netanyahu Makes Prediction

JERUSALEM, Israel – As the world ushered in 2024, the Israel-Hamas war pressed into its 87th day with more fighting along Israel’s northern border and in Gaza, and with appeals from the Israeli president for international help to release the Hamas-held hostages.

Hamas marked the start of the new year with a heavy rocket barrage directed at Tel Aviv and other parts of central and southern Israel. The rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome or fell in open areas.

Netanyahu Predicts Many More Months of War

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the nation and said Israel is fighting on all fronts, and that many more months will be required to secure victory.

“We are continuing to fight until the goals of the war have been achieved, especially the elimination of Hamas and the release of all our hostages,” he stated. “We are not relenting – even for a moment – in our efforts to bring our hostages back home, even at this very moment. We will ensure that Gaza no longer constitutes a threat to Israel, that there will be no element in it that finances terrorism, educates its children for terrorism, and pays the families of terrorists.”

Over the weekend, Israel continued its ground and air operations against terrorists in the northern, central, and southern Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu says all of the soldiers and citizens he speaks with say the same thing: “continue.”

Of the soldiers, he said, “They are fighting with force and new methods, above and below ground. This is very complex fighting, but we have the upper hand.”

The Israel Defense Forces said its troops were engaging in fierce battles against the terrorists. In one case, Hamas operatives were hiding amongst civilians while firing at Israel. In another, the IDF said it found a kindergarten where Hamas had set up explosive devices in anticipation of the Israeli troops.

Israel said Monday it eliminated a Hamas commander who had led perpetrators of the October 7th attack, and later, led fighting against Israeli soldiers.

The prime minister claimed Israel has killed more than 8,000 terrorists so far, and was fighting on additional fronts.

Iran’s Proxies – Hezbollah and Houthis – Attacking Israel

From southern Lebanon, Hezbollah continued its attacks against northern Israel over the weekend, and Israel hit back hard, striking villages from where Hezbollah was firing its rockets.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters, “Hezbollah has turned the southern villages in southern Lebanon into a combat zone. To Hezbollah, just like Hamas, the residents of southern Lebanon do not matter. They are a human shield for them. We will continue to strike in Lebanon, in southern Lebanon, wherever Hezbollah activates terror against us; they will encounter significant and powerful strikes.”

Netanyahu announced he had spoken to leaders about a coalition to protect international shipping from drone missile attacks in the Red Sea by Iranian-backed Houthis.

U.S. Navy helicopters sank three boats manned by Houthi rebels who were attacking a ship and then fired on the helicopters in the Red Sea. The skirmish is the latest involving the Houthis on a major shipping route and is linked to the Gaza conflict by the Houthis’ Iranian sponsorship.

“Regarding Iran: Iran is leading the axis of evil and the aggression against us on the various fronts. This aggression is aimed not only at Israel but at the entire free world,” said Netanyahu.

On Sunday, Israeli buildings lit up with a message calling for the release of the Hamas abductees, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog posted a message on X (formerly Twitter) –a New Year’s plea to world leaders, in multiple languages, to remember and support the hostages.

“As we enter 2024, “Herzog wrote,” I call on the entire family of nations, on all world leaders, to demand and work for the immediate, unconditional release of our 133 hostages. Babies, the elderly, women, men are being held in brutal captivity by Hamas, without vital medication or visitation from the Red Cross. Their immediate release is at the core of our battle with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. May the light dispel the darkness, and may the New Year bring peace, hope, and healing for all.”

Hostage families also put out short video greetings asking to be remembered during New Year’s celebrations.

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