Netanyahu tells nation: Israel ‘in fight for our existence,’ ground incursion coming

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the public from Tel Aviv on October 25, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the public from Tel Aviv on October 25, 2023. (Screen capture/YouTube)

In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns Israel is in a battle for its existence, says that the goal is “saving the nation,” and promises that a ground incursion to destroy Hamas in Gaza is coming.

“Israel is in the midst of a fight for our existence,” the prime minister begins. He says the war’s two aims are “to eliminate Hamas by destroying its military and governance capabilities, and to do everything possible to get our hostages back.”

“All Hamas members are dead men walking — above and below ground, inside and outside Gaza,” he says. “Together with Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, Minister Benny Gantz, the security cabinet, the chief of staff and heads of the security organizations, we are working around the clock in order to achieve the war aims until victory, and doing so without political considerations.”

The goal is “saving the nation, achieving victory.” Thousands of terrorists have been killed, he says, “and that is only the beginning.”

He says Israel is getting ready for a ground operation, but will not share when or how. He says he will not share the range of considerations involved.

“We are preparing for a ground incursion. I won’t specify when, how, how many. I also won’t detail the range of considerations, most of which the public is not aware of. And that’s the way it is supposed to be. This is the way, so that we protect our soldiers’ lives.”

Netanyahu says there was a unanimous decision about the timing of the ground incursion. “The timing of the operation was determined unanimously by the war cabinet and the chief of staff,” he says.

“We will extract the full price from those murderers, those perpetrators of atrocities… from Hamas-Daesh,” in the ground invasion, he says.

He again calls on Gazan noncombatants to head to southern Gaza.

He says the huge pain of the loss of 1,400 people in Hamas onslaught is not forgotten, referring to “our brothers and sisters who were slaughtered in cold blood and who fell in heroic battles” against the predators.

He says days of mourning will be called in memory of those killed in the assault.

And he vows that the devastated southern kibbutzim and communities will be rebuilt.

The prime minister stresses that that government ministries are coming up with plans to take care of the displaced in Israel, and to take care of the rest of the population “just like we did during COVID.”

Netanyahu says that Israel is enlisting the help of world leaders, and that they now understand that “Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas.”

He says the war is one for the sake of all humanity, and that the world now understands that Israel’s fight is their fight, that this is a fight of light against darkness.

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