“Israel’s war to wipe out Hamas is the war of the free world”: Eli Cohen

News Desk: Israel’s war to wipe out Hamas in Gaza is “the war of the free world”, Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen told EU lawmakers in Brussels. Israel was attacked not only by Hamas but by other militias in the region that are supported by Iran, which he called “the world number one financer of terror”, he said.

Eli Cohen spoke alongside several Israelis whose relatives were taken hostage by Hamas when it stormed southern Israel on October 7. After calling Hamas “monsters”, he pleaded for international help to secure the release of the more than 240 hostages being held by Hamas. Since October 7, the Israeli military has been bombarding Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas attack that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, most of them civilians. The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 10,500 people, mainly civilians and thousands of them children.

Eli Cohen also showed two minutes of brutal images said to be from Hamas videos filmed during the October 7 attack.

“The 7th of October was the worst day of the state of Israel and for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” he said. The foreign minister justified Israel’s intense bombardment of Gaza as necessary to root out Hamas “terrorism”, saying, “This is not just the war of the state of Israel. This is the war of the free world. We need to win this war in order to ensure that the West will not be next since terrorism, it’s like a cancer.”

This comes as thousands of Palestinians were fleeing on foot in a surge away from the fighting as Israel said it was tightening the “stranglehold” around Hamas. The pace of Palestinian civilians fleeing south from northern Gaza has accelerated as Israel’s air and ground campaign has intensified, UN said. About 15,000 people fled on Tuesday, compared to 5,000 on Monday and 2,000 on Sunday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Israel defence minister Yoav Gallant said, “(Israeli troops) are tightening the stranglehold around the city of Gaza,” as Tel Aviv set an aim of destroying Hamas. Israel’s ground forces were advancing in pursuit of Hamas who have a deep network of tunnels and underground bases, the minister said.