Netanyahu Says Current War Has Entered ‘Second Stage’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his country was entering into the second phase of its war against the Hamas terrorist organization. The prime minister’s comments came as Israel faced the potential of another front opening against Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

“This is the second stage of the war whose goals are clear — to destroy Hamas’ governing and military capabilities and to bring the hostages home,” the prime minister said. “We are only at the start.”

He further said that the country’s war cabinet made the decision to “expand ground operations unanimously.”

“We did so in a prudent and informed manner, out of a commitment to ensuring the fate of the state and ensuring the safety of our soldiers. The commanders and fighters who are now fighting in enemy territory know that the people, and the leadership of the people, stand behind them.”

He further said that Israel would “destroy the enemy above ground and below ground.”

Netanyahu’s statement came as the Israeli military struck a number of Hamas targets underground over the weekend. The organization is noted for its use of complex tunnel systems entering and exiting Gaza. There was considerable fear that at least some of the hostages taken in the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks were taken to the tunnels.

The potential for a second front opening in the ongoing conflict remains present. On Saturday, Israel announced that it struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon after being targeted by rockets.

There has been an ongoing exchange of fire between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah terrorists, leading to a number of casualties.

Iran and allied groups, which support Hamas and Hezbollah, have warned that the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza could spark a larger regional war.

The Pentagon announced a plan to send more Iron Dome aerial defense systems to Israel amid the ongoing conflict. The United States has also positioned a number of air and naval assets in the region in case of potential escalation.