Israel will maintain security control over Gaza after defeating Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday night.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz at Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said, “The IDF will continue to have security control over the Gaza Strip for as long as necessary to prevent terrorism from it. The massacre on Oct. 7 proved once and for all wherever there is no Israeli security control, terrorism will return and establish itself; therefore, I will not agree to concede security control under any circumstances.”
It was the third time in recent days that Netanyahu has said that Israel will maintain security control over the Gaza Strip after Hamas is destroyed. He made similar remarks in a meeting with mayors of Gaza border towns on Friday and last week in an interview with ABC News.
“I think Israel for an indefinite period will have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” Netanyahu told ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir on Nov. 6.
“When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine,” he added.
The United States has asked for clarification on Netanyahu’s stance, according to Israeli media reports.
Washington wants the Palestinian Authority to take over the Strip after the war, a move that Israel rejects because of the PA’s support for terrorism.
The solution in Gaza “must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a Group of Seven meeting in Tokyo last week.
Netanyahu on Saturday said that Gaza cannot be ruled by “a civil authority that educates its children to hate Israel, to kill Israelis, to eliminate the State of Israel… an authority that pays the families of murderers [amounts] based on the number they murdered… an authority whose leader still has not condemned the terrible [Oct. 7] massacre 30 days later,” referring to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu began his remarks with a tribute to five soldiers that had fallen in Gaza and whose identities the IDF had just announced. Four of the soldiers, from the 697th Battalion, were killed in a blast from a booby-trapped tunnel shaft near a mosque in Beit Hanoun. Another soldier was killed during battles in the northern Gaza Strip.
More than 40 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the start of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza on Oct. 27 and more than 350 have died since the Oct. 7 massacre.
Netanyahu also blasted French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Friday in which the French leader claimed that Israel had bombed “babies, ladies and old people” in its campaign to destroy Hamas.
“He made a serious mistake, factually and morally. It’s Hamas preventing the evacuation of civilians, not Israel,” the premier said, explaining how the terrorist group has fired on the humanitarian corridor set up by the Israeli military and uses Gazans as human shields.
“It’s not Israel that locates itself in hospitals, in schools, in UNRWA and UN facilities — it’s Hamas. Therefore, it is not Israel but Hamas that is responsible for harm to civilians.”
“And I say to the president of France and our other friends—it will reach you too,” said Netanyahu. “Immunity must not given to terrorists who carry out this double war crime. We are truly doing everything to minimize harm to civilians or noncombatants, but we will not give Hamas the license to murder our citizens without our response. We can do without the moral preaching.”
For his part, Gallant discussed the northern front, saying that Hezbollah’s “provocations have turned into [acts of] aggression” and warning the Iran-backed radical Sh’ite terror group that they are “playing with fire.”
“Our forces on the ground are prepared for any mission. There are many troops deployed and they are skilled. They exact heavy prices from Hezbollah every day. The IAF planes—most of the IAF’s capabilities are not engaged in Gaza—they are facing north, with our pilots in their cockpits ready for any command at any time,” said Gallant.
“We know that we have someone to depend on [the IDF]. The citizens of Lebanon should know that if Nasrallah makes a mistake, the fate of Beirut will be similar to that of Gaza,” he added.
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