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Israel's army chief vows to restart fighting in Gaza after hostages' return


People inspect buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Oct 11, 2023. [Xinhua]

Israeli army chief Herzi Halevi announced on Sunday that once the hostages covered by the current deal are safely returned to Israel, the country will resume the fighting in Gaza.

Halevi conveyed this message in a letter addressed to all Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commanders and soldiers as the fragile truce between Israel and Hamas entered its third day.

"When the framework (of the current truce deal) is completed, we will return to our operations with determination," Halevi wrote. He said the fighting would continue until all approximately 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas were freed and Hamas itself was "dismantled."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office confirmed in a statement that it received a list from Hamas, detailing the hostages expected to be released on Sunday night in the third round of the swap. In return, Israel is expected to release additional Palestinian prisoners.

According to Israeli figures, about 1,200 people were killed and about 240 others were held as hostages during the Hamas attacks on southern Israel that triggered the conflict.

The weeks of Israeli bombardment in Gaza have led to the deaths of over 14,000 people, 40 percent of them children, while thousands remained missing, believed to be trapped beneath the rubble, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. 

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