The prime minister says that “demilitarization” of the Palestinian enclave must be ensured
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aims to take full control of the Gaza-Egypt border zone, arguing that it would be the only way to achieve “demilitarization” of the Palestinian enclave and prevent the recurrence of cross-border attacks.
Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday as Israel enters its 13th week of the war with Hamas, Netanyahu predicted that “the war will continue for many more months,” despite international pressure to end the hostilities.
He reiterated the plans to fully eliminate Hamas and achieve the release of all Israeli hostages, promising to ensure that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel and that there will be “no element in it that finances terrorism, educates its children for terrorism and pays the families of terrorists.”
Netanyahu further said that there are “additional important missions” aimed at restoring security in the Israeli cities and settlements that fell victim to the devastating Hamas attack on October 7 attack and facilitating a safe return for the residents.
“The Philadelphi Corridor – or to put it more correctly, the southern stoppage point [of Gaza] – must be in our hands. It must be shut. It is clear that any other arrangement would not ensure the demilitarization that we seek,” the PM stressed.
“As prime minister, I have rejected the international pressure aimed at stopping the war before we achieve these goals,” Netanyahu added. He also praised the US for approving the “supply of additional war materiel” to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
Netanyahu did not elaborate on whether he plans on placing the enclave under exclusive Israeli control after years of disengagement, following the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli security forces in 2005. He, however, repeatedly stressed that he would not allow the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank but not the Gaza Strip, to take charge of the embattled enclave after the war.
Netanyahu’s statement came days after South Africa filed an appeal before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” of the Palestinian population in Gaza.
Israel has rejected this accusation as lacking “factual and judicial basis.” Instead, Israeli officials blamed Hamas for inflicting suffering on Gazans, accusing the militant group of using locals as “human shields.”
More than 21,600 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel began airstrikes and launched a ground invasion into the enclave, according to the local Hamas-run government.
Israel declared war on Hamas and other Palestinian militants after they attacked southern Israeli cities and killed around 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages. Dozens of hostages were later released as part of prisoner swaps during a weeklong truce in late November.