IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi HaleviIDF Spokesperson

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi marked six months since the beginning of the war in Gaza and addressed the IDF withdrawal from large areas of the Gaza Strip.

"Today marks six months of the war, one which we set out to from a very difficult point. We regained our composure and are fighting with strength and determination. We are fighting this different kind of war, unlike those that came before it, and in deep consideration, no two of which have been alike," Halevi stated.

"This is a long war, with varying intensity. In some places, it seems that life has returned to its course, and all the while the soldiers are fighting heroically; the home front doesn't feel this, but the soldiers' families feel it very deeply. This is not routine. We are in a multi-arena war. There is no reason for panic, but also no place for complacency. We must be aware of the situation and always prepared.

"Know that IDF troops are prepared and operating in every arena - in the south, in the north, in Judea and Samaria, and in more distant arenas. The IDF knows how to deal with Iran - offensively and defensively. We are prepared for this, we have good defensive systems, and we know how to act forcefully against Iran in both near and distant places. We are operating in cooperation with the USA and strategic partners in the region. Since the beginning of the war, Iran has tried to distance itself from direct involvement in it, but we know that it activates, directs, funds, and transfers knowledge to all its proxies in the region - from Hezbollah, through Judea and Samaria, to Yemen. Iran not only threatens Israel but the entire Western and Arab world - Iran is a global problem, it was and remains the biggest issue," he declared.

Regarding the war in Gaza, the Chief of Staff insisted it continues, "and we are far from stopping. Senior Hamas officials are still hiding. We will reach them sooner or later. We are advancing, continuing to eliminate more terrorists and commanders and destroy more terrorist infrastructure, including last night. We will not leave any Hamas brigades active - in any part of the Gaza Strip. We have plans and will act when we decide. Alongside the offensive effort, we are allowing the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Hamas' interest is to project a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in order to pressure an end to the war. Hamas tries to take control of the humanitarian aid and prevents its desired distribution, in order to return and control the Gaza Strip - it is not right for this to happen.

"Therefore, we continue to dismantle Hamas, we are dismantling Hamas its military and governance capabilities -in order to bring about a different solution that will bring stability to the region."

Halevi continued: "Yesterday, in an IDF and ISA operation, we retrieved from the depths of Khan Yunis the body of the hostage Elad Katzir z”l. Elad was abducted from his home in Nir Oz and was murdered by the terrorists holding him captive in the Gaza Strip. I am pained and share in the grief of the Katzir family and the Nir Oz community. We all wanted to bring him back alive - we did not succeed in this. Unfortunately, I did not know Elad, but I know, I've heard, how special he was for his family and friends."

He promised: "We will continue to act in every way. We will continue our efforts - intelligence and operational, to return all the hostages as quickly as possible. As the Chief of the General Staff, I personally feel responsible for returning them, and so do the rest of the IDF's commanders and soldiers. This negotiation needs to be conducted responsibly and carefully, and its details should remain in the appropriate rooms. The IDF is strong enough for the State of Israel to know it can pay a price for the return of its sons and daughters. We have a moral obligation to them, and the IDF will know how to withstand this even at a difficult price and will also know how to come back and fight back with strength."

Halevi noted that "over the past half a year, we have paid a heavy price in a very just war for our home. We lost many soldiers and commanders. Yesterday, four soldiers fell in action during the fighting in Khan Yunis. We have many wounded and injured in combat. The risking of their lives deserves great appreciation. We embrace the bereaved families with an eternal hug and strengthen the wounded and their families on their path to recovery.

"For half a year, the residents of the north have not returned to their homes. I know the situation is not easy, and we are working with the heads of the authorities to improve the situation. We are committed to caring for the residents until they can return. We will return you only in security, and it will take more time - that's the truth. Hezbollah needs to pay a price, and it is paying an increasing price for its participation in the war. We are fighting in the north and are also preparing for the possibility of war - we are in a very high state of readiness and constantly undergoing a process of strengthening our readiness."

According to the Chief of Staff, "When we went to war, at the beginning, we knew and said it would take a long time, to achieve the goals. We have brought very significant achievements in the fighting in Gaza, but the goals have not yet been fully achieved – returning all the hostages home, returning the residents of the north to their homes in security, and dismantling Hamas throughout the Gaza Strip, in a way that allows for a different governance that isn’t Hamas, in the Gaza Strip.

"The reality is extremely complex, and there are no simple solutions. We are managing the war responsibly and with determination. We must not be delusional. As we said, some goals will take a long time, and we will not rest until we achieve them. Returning the hostages is the most urgent and important, and its time frame differs from the other goals."

Halevi explained: "October 7th is a turning point in Israeli security. We have begun to examine the complex events of that day - we will learn and make decisions. The working assumptions we operated under, the attribution of scenarios for which we built ourselves, our perception of the enemy - it's clear to us that these need to change.

"The IDF needs to be stronger, larger - so that what happened on October 7th is not repeated. And these are of course not the only changes. The decisions we make today have a decisive and critical impact on the building of the IDF's strength in ten years. We do not have the privilege of delaying them. Delaying decisions on building the IDF’s strength endangers the security of the state."

He concluded: "The IDF is operating with determination - I believe in and very much rely on the soldiers and commanders. We have brave, determined soldiers who believe in the righteousness of our path. The State of Israel gives us strong and important backing. The spirit of the IDF alongside its strength with the support of the nation will bring about the achievement of the goals of the war."