The Israel Defence Forces on Sunday said that the fighting in Gaza could continue for at least a year.

This comes as Israel’s war on Gaza entered its fourth month on Sunday.

At least 22,722 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, amid Israel’s war on the besieged region, reported AFP. The war was triggered after the attack on southern Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas that had killed 1,200 people. The group had also taken more than 200 hostages.

Since October, Israel has bombarded the Palestinian region with airstrikes and in recent months also launched ground invasion from northern Gaza.

“We have completed the dismantling of Hamas’ military framework in the northern Gaza Strip and will continue to deepen the achievement, strengthening the barrier and the defense components along the security fence,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said.

He added: “Now, we are focusing on dismantling Hamas in the central and southern Gaza Strip. We will do this differently, thoroughly, based on the lessons we have learned from the fighting so far.”

He warned Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group backed by Iran, not to drag its country into “unnecessay war” for Hamas.

“We have a duty to defend our people, if not through diplomatic means, then through the force of arms,” Hagari said. “The diplomatic window may be short, but it’s still open.”

On January 2, an Israeli strike had killed a top Hamas leader in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. In response, Hezbollah launched missiles into northern Israel.

Israel’s announcement came ahead of United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to West Asia. A key ally of Israel, the US has said that the war in Gaza could spread across the region if military operations are not toned down.

“This is a moment of profound tension in the region,” Blinken told a news conference in Doha alongside Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani,. “This is a conflict that could easily metastasise, causing even more insecurity and even more suffering.”

The effects of the war in Gaza have already spilled over to the Red Sea.

Since November, the Houthis, a Yemen-based military organisation backed by Iran, has claimed responsibility for several attacks on commercial shipping in the region. The attacks have increased navigation risks along the crucial international maritime route.