Jerusalem, Dec 4 (IANS): Israel is determined to eliminate the Hamas militant group from all over the world even if it takes years, chief of the intelligence Shin Bet agency Ronen Bar said.
Shin Bet, also known as the Israeli Security Agency, is the Jewish nation's domestic security agency, tasked with combating terrorism.
"The cabinet set us a goal. In the words of the street, it is to eliminate Hamas. And we are determined to do it. This is our Munich. Everywhere: in Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar, everywhere," CNN quoted the Shin Bet chief as saying in a recording aired by Israel's public broadcaster Kan on Sunday.
Bar's mention of Munich is a reference to the events on September 5, 1972, during the Munich Olympics when two Israelis were killed and nine were taken hostage by the members of Black September, a Palestinian terrorist movement demanding the release of political prisoners by the Israeli government.
"It will take a few years, but we will be there to do it. The security responsibility is ours. Our duty is to provide both security and a sense of security. Unfortunately, on October 7 we were unable to do it.
"I think we are on the rise. We are not waiting. We are already drawing our lessons from the events," he added.
The Shin Bet chief's remarks came as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Sunday night that it was expanding its ground operations to the whole of the Gaza Strip.
"The IDF is resuming and expanding the ground operation against Hamas’ strongholds across the whole Gaza Strip," CNN quoted IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari as saying at a news conference.
Hagari also underlined "the importance of air assistance provided by the Air Force to ground forces", saying airstrikes against terror headquarters, weapons manufacturing facilities, terror tunnels, and rocket launching sites limit the threats posed against the ground operation.
"Our policy is clear — we will forcefully strike any threat posed against our territory," he added.
Israel has been bombarding Gaza as combat operations resumed following the collapse of the seven-day humanitarian truce on December 1.
Since the resumption of the hostilities, the Israeli military said it struck Hamas tunnel shafts, command centres and weapons storage facilities in the besieged enclave.
Between December 2 and 3, at least 316 people were killed and 664 others injured in Gaza, says the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.
The overall death toll in Gaza since the war erupted on October 7 has increased to 15,523 as of Monday morning.
According to the Ministry, 70 per cent of the total figure comprises women and children.
Meanwhile, 77 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the start of the ground operations on October 7.
In Israel, the casualty toll remains more than 1,200, including foreign nationals.