Gaza war to determine lives of Israelis for decades, says Yoav Gallant

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Tel Aviv, May 13 (IANS/DPA) The outcome of the ongoing Gaza war between Israel and Hamas will determine the lives of Israelis in the coming decades, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday.

"This is a war with no alternative," said Gallant during a speech to mark the country's official memorial day to commemorate its fallen soldiers.

"This is a war that will continue until we return our hostages, smash Hamas' rule and its military capabilities, and return the State of Israel to its prosperity and creativity and bring back a smile to citizens' faces," the minister said.

Israel began its military campaign to eliminate Hamas following the unprecedented October 7 attacks on southern Israel when the Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians and took a further 250 people hostage in the Gaza Strip.

Israel responded with massive airstrikes and launched a ground offensive into the sealed-off coastal area at the end of October.

Some 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war so far, according to Gaza's Hamas-controlled health authority.

Gallant said one of the aims of the Israeli military campaign was to enable the roughly 250,000 Israeli citizens who had to leave their homes near Gaza and Lebanon amid fighting with the Shiite Hezbollah militia to return.

Israel marked its annual Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism on Monday.

According to the Defence Ministry, more than 25,000 soldiers and Jewish fighters have been killed in conflict since 1860.

The count begins with the immigration of Jews into what is now Israel long before the founding of the state in 1948. Sirens sounded for two minutes across the country on Monday morning to commemorate the dead.

Since October 7, more than 700 Israeli security forces have been killed, including 620 soldiers, according to the Defence Ministry.

The figures include both those killed by militants in the October 7 attacks and during the Gaza war.