Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he sympathizes with the intolerable suffering of those whose loved ones are still being held hostage.
He says there is “a vast intelligence factory” working 24 hours a day on every scrap of information, as part of the effort “to return all of the hostages safely — female and male soldiers, male and female citizens, young and old.”
“We’re on the right path,” he says.”We managed to bring 110 hostages home,” he says, because of the ground operation and the diplomatic effort combined.
“That’s the only way to get the rest of the hostages home,” he says.
“Hamas wanted to tear us apart; we are tearing it apart.”
Netanyahu highlights the IDF’s achievements in killing “about half of Hamas’s battalion commanders.”
The terror group is understood to have some 24 battalions fighting in Gaza.
“We are settling accounts with all those who kidnapped, participated, murdered, slaughtered, raped and burned the daughters of our people. We will not forget and we will not forgive.”
As the ground operation has proceeded in the past days, he says, “the ground shook” in Khan Younis and Jabaliya — “we surrounded both… There is nowhere we do not get to.”
Netanyahu mourns the fallen soldiers, and says “they did not fall in vain.”
He vows that Gaza will “never again pose a threat to Israel. There will be no forces that support terror, educate for terror, finance terror and the families of terrorists,” he says, in an implied reference to the Palestinian Authority.
Gaza “must be demilitarized,” he says. “And the only force that can ensure this is the IDF. No international force can be responsible for this… I’m not prepared to close my eyes and accept any other arrangement.”
The prime minister urges Gaza noncombatants to evacuate areas where the fighting is taking place.
Addressing “our friends in the world who are pressing for a fast end to the war,” he says that “the only way for us to end the war, and end it quickly, is to use crushing force against Hamas — crushing force in order to destroy it.”
Those who want a quick end to the war must understand this, he says. Switching to English, he says they must “stand with us, stand with Israel, stand with civilization.”