The Jewish state is fighting a war against “the forces of barbarism” for itself and for all decent countries, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told foreign reporters on Monday.
“It is a time for everyone to decide where they stand,” he said.
Netanyahu hopes that the world will back Israel, because “Israel’s fight is your fight,” and should “Hamas and Iran’s axis of evil win, you will be their next target,” he said.
The “horrors of Hamas” show that the 21st century has not moved “beyond the barbaric horrors of the past” towards a brighter future, according to Netanyahu.
“We will not realize the promise of a better future unless we—the civilized world—are willing to fight the barbarians,” he said. “The barbarians are willing to fight us, and their goal is clear: Shatter that promise and future, destroy all that we cherish, and usher in a world of fear and darkness.”
The prime minister noted that Hamas carried out “the most horrific crimes imaginable” on Oct. 7 when it broke through Israel’s security barrier with the Gaza Strip and murdered, tortured and beheaded its way through Israel’s southern communities.
Netanyahu dismissed calls for a ceasefire.
“Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of October 7,” he said.
‘We cannot give immunity to the savages’
“Calls for a ceasefire or calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorists, to surrender to barbarism—that will not happen,” he said.
Netanyahu also addressed calls for Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it fights to defeat Hamas.
“Victory over these enemies begins with moral clarity,” he said. “It means making a moral distinction between the deliberate murder of the innocent and the unintentional casualties that accompany every legitimate war—even the most just war.”
“It means making clear that the use of human shields is not only an immoral tactic of terror but also an ineffective one,” he continued. “As long as Hamas’s use of Palestinian human shields results in the international community blaming Israel, Hamas will continue to use it as a tool of terror and so will others.”
The terror organization, which the United States has designated as such since 1997, will keep using “the basements in Gaza and hospitals as the command posts of its vast territorial network,” Netanyahu said. “It will continue to use mosques as fortified military positions and weapon depots. It will continue to steal fuel and humanitarian assistance from UN facilities.”
All of this as Israel does everything it can to remove Palestinians from harm’s way. “Hamas is doing everything to keep Palestinian civilians in harm’s way,” Netanyahu said.
A reporter from Australia’s Channel 7 asked why so many civilians have to die. “Not a single civilian has to die” if Hamas allows its people to go to safe zones, which Israel created in the southeast of the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu said.
He told the reporter that the question was better directed to Hamas.
Netanyahu warned that the more the world places the onus of civilian casualties on Israel, the more criminal states and organizations will use human shields.
“We cannot give immunity to the savages,” Netanyahu said.
“Ground action actually creates the possibility” of freeing the hostages, the prime minister told Germany’s Channel 2, of criticism that an Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip will harm efforts to negotiate for the Israeli hostages that Hamas holds.
“Hamas will not do it unless they’re under pressure,” he said, of the release of prisoners.
Speaking in a press briefing shortly before Netanyahu’s address, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stressed that the Israeli forces freeing IDF soldier Ori Megidish on Sunday showed that the ground incursion increased the chances of rescuing hostages.
“We’re committed to getting all the hostages back home,” Netanyahu said. “We think that this method stands a chance.”
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