Netanyahu slams Macron’s criticism of Israel: ‘He made a serious mistake, factually and morally’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) as they hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (L) as they hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is asked whether he can promise residents of the north, tens of thousands of whom have been evacuated, that Hezbollah will not be a threat to them after the war.

“The answer is yes,” says Netanyahu, explaining that one goal of the war is “to restore security to the State of Israel.”

Hezbollah is being hit by Israel because of its activities on the northern front, and it will be hit “in every way” if “it crosses the line.”

Israel will restore security for those in the north and the south, he vows.

He again denies that previous Israeli policy was to contain Hamas. He says Israel hit it repeatedly in past rounds of conflict. “But we didn’t uproot them. Now we’re correcting that… once and for all.”

Hamas won’t return and neither will other terrorists, he says.

He is asked why he did not fire far-right Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu for saying one of Israel’s options in the war against Hamas could be to drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza.

“He said things that were incorrect, disconnected from reality… If he does it again, he won’t be in the government,” Netanyahu says.

Netanyahu also addresses French President Emmanuel Macron’s criticism of Israel, in which Macron denounced Israel for killing babies, women and the elderly and demanded a ceasefire.

He says Macron “did good things,” including visiting Israel and sending a floating hospital to Gaza.

But, in his comments, “he made a serious mistake, factually and morally. It’s Hamas that is preventing the evacuation of civilians, not Israel,” says the premier. “Israel tells them to leave.”

And it’s not Israel that fires on the humanitarian corridor set up for northern Gazans to evacuate, “it is Hamas,” he adds.

“It’s not Israel that uses Gazan residents as human shields, it’s Hamas. It’s not Israel that locates itself in hospitals, in schools, in UNRWA and UN facilities, it’s Hamas. Therefore it is not Israel but Hamas that is responsible for harm to civilians,” Netanyahu adds.

If the free world sanctifies the terrorists’ practice of fighting from among civilians, committing the double war crime of targeting and slaughtering civilians while hiding behind their own civilians, then this foul practice will spread, he warns. “And I say to the president of France and our other friends, it will reach you too.”

Immunity must not given to terrorists who carry out this double war crime. We are truly doing everything to minimize harm to civilians or noncombatants, but we will not give Hamas the license to murder our citizens without our response. We can do without the moral preaching.”

In answer to a question about his sons’ service, he says his son Avner has been in reserve duty from the first day of the war, and his son Yair “volunteered from the first day” to raise considerable funds for soldiers and for emergency rescue organizations.

Netanyahu also rules out rebuilding settlements in the Gaza Strip, saying it would not be “realistic” and that he’s driven by security considerations. “I want overall security control” in a “demilitarized Gaza,” he repeats, but not a return of settlement.

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