Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the IDF will remain in control of Gaza after the war in comments likely to raise eyebrows in the international community, hours after he told Fox News that Israel does not want to re-occupy or govern the Strip.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu told ABC News that Israel will have “overall security responsibility” over the Gaza Strip “for an indefinite period” after the war against Hamas ends.
The latest comments are made in a meeting with the mayors of Gaza border towns — the first group meeting that Netanyahu has held with them since the war, something he came under fire for earlier this week when he chose to first meet with a group of settlement mayors.
“IDF forces will remain in control of the Strip, we will not give it to international forces,” Netanyahu tells the southern mayors, according to a readout from his spokesperson.
US officials have raised the idea in recent weeks that an international force of sorts, possibly with troops from neighboring Arab allies would manage security in the Gaza Strip for an interim period until it can be returned to a functioning Palestinian government, which Washington hopes will be the Palestinian Authority.
However, in his comments to the southern mayors, Netanyahu appears to reject the idea outright.
The mayors told Netanyahu that they want a different security reality after the war is over and urged him not to agree to a ceasefire until the last terrorist in Gaza is killed, the statement from the premier’s spokesperson says.
Netanyahu also promised the mayors that the government that the government will supply the Gaza border towns with economic aid to compensate for the damages incurred during the October 7 massacre.