Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the IDF has been reaching deeper into Gaza than Hamas ever imagined, and warns Lebanon’s Hezbollah that it would be making the “greatest mistake of its life” if it opens a new full-on war front.
Speaking from the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu says he is addressing the nation in order to update Israelis on the war.
“In the south, the war is moving forward with force that Hamas has never seen,” he says. “Gaza City is surrounded. We are operating within it, we are deepening the pressure on Hamas every hour, every day.”
He says that thousands of terrorists have been eliminated, both above ground and in tunnels, including many of those who planned and carried out the slaughter of 1,400 people in Israel on October 7.
Netanyahu also says that the ground operation has destroyed “countless” Hamas command centers, positions and tunnels.
“Hamas is discovering that we are reaching places they thought we would never reach,” he says.
Netanyahu notes that IDF troops are learning lessons inside the Strip which they are passing on to troops training inside Israel ahead of their entry into Gaza. He also praises the troops’ faith and determination to defend the country.
In the north, Netanyahu says, the IDF is both defending and attacking. He says that Israel will not accept Hezbollah or Hamas in Lebanon “harming our communities and our citizens.”
“We will respond with heavy fire to any of their attacks against us,” he promises.
If Hezbollah enters the war, Netanyahu says — then repeats — “it will be making the greatest mistake of its life.”
Regarding the hostages held in Gaza, Netanyahu says he spoke with the president of the Red Cross and demanded that it work to secure their immediate release, “as required by international law.” He also demanded that the Red Cross visit all the hostages and establish their well-being, again as international law requires.
“There will not be a ceasefire without the return of our kidnapped,” Netanyahu stresses, delivering this declaration “to our enemies and our friends alike.” He adds that the ground operation is a vital part of the effort to get the hostages home.
Turning to the diplomatic front, Netanyahu says Israel is working to give the IDF diplomatic room to maneuver. He says he has been telling foreign leaders that if Israel does not win, their countries are next. But Israel will win, he promises.
He notes that he speaks with US President Joe Biden regularly, and appreciates the support from the White House and from the American people.
He vows that Israel “will destroy Hamas’s military and governance capabilities… Gaza will no longer constitute a threat to Israel.”
Netanyahu again calls on the Gazan population to move south — “you are already doing it, complete it, because we will not stop,” he says.
And he pledges again that there will not be any fuel allowed into Gaza, “and no ceasefire without the return of our hostages.”
Netanyahu promises that his government will open its pockets to rehabilitate Israel’s devastated southern communities, no matter the cost.
“We will fight together, and with God’s help, we will win together,” concludes Netanyahu.
He does not take questions.
Earlier today, speaking with ground forces troops and commanders at the Tze’elim base, Netanyahu told them that they are “saving the state.”
The ongoing IDF operation in Gaza, he said, “is an incredible success. I’m telling you, the Americans were here. They came and explained what happened at Fallujah… They are astounded by our achievements… Of course, there are painful losses, but overall the success is phenomenal.”